Low-level nuclear waste moved to Northern Cape

Low-level radioactive waste packages accumulated from the 1960s at the Nuclear Energy Corporation South Africa (Necsa) in the North West have been removed to a waste disposal site, the corporation said on Wednesday.

“[Till now], the waste from various nuclear programs was accumulated and stored responsibly in a number of licensed facilities on the Necsa site,” spokesperson Chantal Janneker said.

“We yesterday celebrated the first shipment of 210 packages to the waste disposal facility at Vaalputs in the Northern Cape … which arrived on May 11.”

The packages contained low-level radiation items like plastic gloves and shoes worn by nuclear scientists.

The trip to Vaalputs took two days over about 1 200km.

The corporation, together with the South African National Roads Agency, held training sessions with emergency personnel along the proposed route, although the trip took place without incident. Approval to transport and dispose of Necsa’s waste was granted by the National Nuclear Regulator in March.

Vaalputs was confirmed as the dedicated disposal facility for low-level waste in 2005 following parliamentary approval of the Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy for South Africa. The management of radioactive waste is subject to regulations promulgated by the energy minister in terms of the Nuclear Energy Act of 1999, and delegated to Necsa in terms of section 55(2) of the Act. — Sapa

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