Eskom has confirmed that it will shut down Unit 2 of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station for five months. The power supplier said in a statement: “After over 450 days of uninterrupted operation, Unit 2 of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station will on Monday 17 January 2022 be taken offline for a regular refueling and maintenance outage that is scheduled for five months. This will be the 25th refueling outage on Unit 2 since commissioning and will also see the replacement of the unit’s three steam generators. During this outage, the reactor pressure vessel head, which houses the nuclear fuel while the station is in operation, will also be replaced.”

Eskom also announced that Unit 1 will be shut down later this year: “The Koeberg Unit 1 outage, of a similar duration, will follow later in the year during which the Unit 1 steam generators will also be replaced; its reactor pressure vessel head was replaced several years ago.”

“This is going to be a long, but needed outage – the first of its kind for Koeberg. Our staff are prepared and committed to make history by ensuring success of this project,” said Riedewaan Bakardien, Eskom’s Chief Nuclear Officer. “Nuclear safety is the paramount factor. We will progress the outage work diligently, making sure nuclear safety and safety of plant, personnel and public is top of mind.”

The Koeberg units, at 920MW each, are the largest generating units on the African continent.

The Koeberg Alert Alliance said: “Firstly it is disingenuous to call this a “regular refuelling” outage. It is about as accurate as saying your car is going to the mechanic for refuelling, and by the way while busy filling the tank they will also replace the gearbox. The vast majority of the cost and the duration of the outage will be to do the refurbishment, so it is more accurate to call this a refurbishment outage.”