Policy & Legislation
The nuclear sector in South Africa is mainly governed by the Nuclear Energy Act 1999 (Act 46 of 1999), National Nuclear Regulator Act (Act No. 47 of 1999) and National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute Act, (Act 53 of 2008).
Other legislation that also have some relevance for the nuclear industry are the Hazardous Substances Act, the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, the Patent Act, the National Strategic Intelligence Act, the National Key Points Act, the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act, the Mine Health and Safety Act, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, the National Environmental Management Act, the National Water Act and the Dumping at Sea Control Act.
The NNR operates within the following Constitutional, Legislative and Policy framework:
- Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 (Act No.108 of 1996)
- Nuclear Energy Act (Act No 46 of 1999)
- National Nuclear Regulator Act (Act No.47 of 1999)
- Public Finance Management Act No. 1 of 1999 (PFMA)
- National Treasury Regulations (TR)
- National Environmental Management Act No. 107 0f 1998
- Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) (Act No.2 of 2000)
- Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA), (Act No. 3 of 2000)
The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) is mandated to provide for the protection of persons (the public and workers), property and the environment against nuclear damage as the competent authority for nuclear regulation in South Africa. This mandate is conferred in a number of policy documents as reflected below:
1. Nuclear Energy Policy
The Nuclear Energy Policy of the Republic of South Africa was published in June 2008. It presents a framework within which prospecting, mining, milling and the use of nuclear materials as well as the development and utilisation of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes by South Africa shall take place. Among various things, the Policy covers:
- the prospecting and mining of uranium ore and any other ores containing nuclear properties and materials; and
- the nuclear fuel cycle in its entirety, focusing on all applications of nuclear technology for energy generation.
- One of the sixteen principles of this Policy is that Nuclear Energy shall be used as part of South Africa’s diversification of primary energy sources and to ensure security of energy supply.
2. Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy
In carrying out its regulatory mandate, the NNR ensures that policy guidelines and principles relating to radioactive waste management are supported for purposes of ensuring safety. The requirements relating to the management of radioactive waste are assessed and compliance of NNR authorisation holders is monitored.
IAEA Member State
South Africa has been a member state of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since 1957, and has entered into the following multilateral agreements;
- Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities of the IAEA.
- Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
- Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident.
- Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency.
- Convention on Nuclear Safety.
- Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.
- Revised Supplementary Agreement Concerning the Provision of Technical Assistance by the IAEA (RSA).
- African Regional Co-operative Agreement for Research, Development and Training Related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA) – Fourth Extension.
Legally Binding Nuclear Safety Conventions
- The IAEA facilitates the establishment of international conventions on nuclear safety. These are legally binding international instruments which are required to be ratified by the contracting party or member state before they can be implemented. The conventions place certain obligations on member states to implement measures aimed at ensuring nuclear safety.
- South Africa ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) in 1996 and its obligations commenced on 24 March 1997. In November 2006, South Africa acceded to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. The country’s obligations under the Joint Convention commenced in February 2007.
- As a member state of the IAEA, South Africa is required to fulfil its international obligations and promote international cooperation to enhance global nuclear safety. In terms of section 5(e) of the NNR Act, the NNR is mandated to fulfil national obligations with respect to international instruments concerning nuclear safety and to act as the national competent authority in connection with the IAEA’s Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material.
- The NNR co-ordinates and implements South Africa’s Contracting Party (CP) obligations to the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.