A drone crash at the Koeberg nuclear power station in South Africa has led to the suspension of the site’s safety officer for breach of regulations.
The Koeberg facility is a dual-unit 1,800-MW station located about 30 kilometers northwest of Cape Town. It is the only nuclear power plant in Africa.
According to owner and operator Eskom, the drone entered restricted airspace over the plant and crashed into a building. Eskom did not say when the incident occurred.
In January, The Remote Control Project released a report suggesting that drones pose a serious threat to nuclear power plants and other high-profile targets. Although no plant damage was reported as a result of the crash at Koeberg, Eskom suspended the safety officer as a precautionary measure while the incident is being fully investigated.
The Koeberg station is designated as a “National Key Point” in South Africa. National Key Points are locations or areas that have been deemed under the National Key Points Act of 1980 to be “so important that its loss, damage, disruption or immobilization may prejudice the Republic.” As such, special security is mandatory and certain incidents, such as the drone crash, are required to be promptly reported.
Following the recent incident, the drone was simply returned to its owner without completion of a proper investigation. The matter has since been reported to the South African Police Service.
Unrelated to the drone incident, Eskom also announced suspensions for the Koeberg Power Station manager and the plant manager. Those suspensions resulted from the unauthorized distribution of documentation containing facts and assumptions about Koeberg’s Production Plan, and in particular, its steam generator replacements. Effects of the unsanctioned release of information are still being assessed.
—Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)