NNR launched the 1st centre of excellence for nuclear safety and security (CNNS) in South Africa at a gala dinner event on 16 September
The NNR launched the first applied research and training establishment dedicated to developing essential skills demanded by South Africa’s nuclear industry, the Centre of Excellence for Nuclear Safety and Security, at the University of Pretoria in Hatfield. The launch was attended by the Minister of Energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Petterson and nuclear, science and energy experts as well as professors from energy and science organisations such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC).
The launch was opened by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, who welcomed everyone to the institute. In her speech she spoke of the long standing relationship the institute has had with the nuclear industry including projects involving Necsa and the Koeberg power plant. She emphasised that the location of the centre at the institute will enhance the institute’s commitment to nuclear education, research and development. The keynote speaker for the evening, Honourable Minister Ms Joemat-Petterson, highlighted the responsibility of all nuclear energy organisations, including the new NRWDI (National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute), to sharpen their tools and work collectively in the face of the Nuclear Build Programme. “We cannot procure 9600MW of nuclear power capacity by 2023 onwards if as a country we do not have intellectual capacity” said the Minister of Energy.
The centre was developed by the NNR in partnership with the University of Pretoria as well as other local and international academic institutions including the North Carolina State University and University of Michigan. NNR CEO, Dr Tyobeka, highlighted that the centre was established to address the many challenges faced by the regulator making it difficult for the regulator to perform its mandate of protecting persons, property and the environment. Some of these challenges include that of an ageing workforce, the ageing nuclear power plant and the design life extension, understanding new nuclear technologies, addressing the lessons learnt at Fukushima, interim and long term solutions of dealing with nuclear waste, the harmonization of nuclear regulation between the medical and industrial sector and preparing for the New Build Programme with specific reference to the Site Licence Application. He pointed out the critical need for the regulator to have an additional dedicated team of experts that would focus on new and emerging trends that are based on science.
The centre is envisaged to have many benefits and one of the most important is to maintain and improve the nuclear safety and security of this country. It is also expected that the centre will provide a positive contribution to many of the socio-economic challenges faced by this country such as unemployment and the lack of a centralized repository of nuclear knowledge which can be used to make informed decisions. According to Dr Tyobeka after the launch the NNR will be preoccupied with the process of selecting a Director for the centre who will then steer things forth and bring the centre to life.
The evening closed with a vote of thanks from Dr Sifiso Nhleko the Specialist in the Design Safety Division at the National Nuclear Regulator and the Project Manager for the CNSS.
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