Decommissioning strategies and planning

Similar to nuclear programmes worldwide, the uranium conversion and enrichment research and production projects in South Africa were termi­nated in the early 1990s. During this time, the decommissioning strategy was aimed at returning the Necsa site to greenfield. To achieve this, the final disposal of waste, demolition of all buildings and the remediation of a site to conditions prior to any development was considered. Currently, demoli­tion is no longer considered as a final decommissioning phase and, as the demand for nuclear facilities increases (nuclear renaissance), redevelop­ment and re-use (R/R) after decommissioning are currently envisaged for the buildings on the Necsa site. This will ensure a holistic approach based on current and projected future redevelopment demands. The new redevel­opment and re-use plan aims to allocate previously licensed buildings to similar or the same nuclear projects as housed originally in the specific building, thus meeting most of the design requirements. There are various buildings on the Necsa site that are currently in a decommissioning or a care and maintenance phase that will now be evaluated to ensure the opti­mization of decommissioning costs and waste minimization. The possible reutilization of process equipment could prevent unnecessary generation of waste and the implementation of additional radiological protective meas­ures resulting in decommissioning costs.

Currently, conceptual decommissioning plans exist for most nuclear facil­ities and these plans will be explored to include possible redevelopment options. Emphasis shall be on the preservation of buildings and infrastruc­ture, to keep them structurally sound and operable. For example, the decom­missioning, decontamination and possible reutilisation of the uranium conversion facility at Necsa (Fig. 20.14) could have a major influence on the new Necsa nuclear fuel cycle initiative ’s business strategy and plan and waste management. Decommissioning projects aim at waste minimization by ensuring effective equipment and technology are used and proper seg­regation of waste is applied.

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