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Minister Gwede Mantashe suspends Koeberg activist from nuclear regulator board

Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) activist Peter Becker has been suspended from the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) board over allegations of misconduct and conflict of interest. File picture.

Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) activist Peter Becker has been suspended from the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) board over allegations of misconduct and conflict of interest. File picture.

Published Jan 20, 2022

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Cape Town - Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) activist Peter Becker has been suspended from the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) board over allegations of misconduct and conflict of interest.

Becker, who was appointed to the board last year as a representative of civil society, denies all the allegations and said he hoped to challenge his suspension and have it reversed.

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Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said the NNR chairperson told him Becker’s conduct prompted the board to get a legal opinion to establish whether it posed a conflict with his role and fiduciary duty as a member of the board.

“As the allegations levelled against Becker are of a serious nature and his continued presence on the board may prejudice its effective and efficient functioning, I consider it prudent to suspend him from office with immediate effect pending my final decision,” he said.

The opinion to the board chairperson was provided by MacRobert Attorneys on October 6 and Mantashe said it was shared with Becker on October 8 last year.

“While Becker indicated that he disputes the contents of the opinion, he has not made any written representations to me,” he said.

In his letter dated January 18, Mantashe gave Becker until February 11 to submit written representations why he should not be discharged from office.

A letter from Becker’s lawyers Chennells Albertyn to Mantashe disputed his assertion that Becker had not made written representations to the minister.

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Becker’s suspension comes at a time when the NNR is meant to finalise its review and response to the revised installation safety case for replacing steam generators at Eskom’s ageing 1 840MW Koeberg nuclear power station.

Eskom’s operating licence for Koeberg expires in 2024 and the refurbishment is a requirement by the NNR.

Energy activists have focussed a lot of attention on the work being done at Koeberg and there are ongoing meetings of the board this week where technical aspects of these matters will be discussed and decided on.

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Becker said on Monday, the day before Mantashe’s letter was written, he was refused access to the agenda and document packs for these meetings by the board secretary.

He said his access to the online document portal was revoked and was not invited to the online meetings.

The KAA queried the cost involved in the Koeberg refurbishment and said the work should not go ahead until Eskom revealed the scope of the work being planned, and held a public consultation process.

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On Wednesday the KAA said the NNR is tasked with protecting the public and the environment from radiation and that the NNR Act required the board to include a person representing civil society.

“After being nominated by several organisations in late 2020, in June 2021, Becker of the KAA was appointed to the board to fulfil this role.”

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