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Koeberg Nuclear Power Station : Criticism of site selection

It is argued by some that the investigation into the siting of Koeberg was flawed, and that the area lies within a seismic fault zone that has seen a number of serious earthquakes over the past century (between 1620 and 1971 a total of 73 earthquakes were recorded in or near Cape Town), the most recent being the Ceres quake of 1969 which had a magnitude of 6.3 on the Richter Scale (Wullschleger, 1999).

Criticism was levelled at the site selection criteria by Cape Town City’s Medical Officer at the time, Dr R.J. Coogan who raised concerns about Koeberg’s proximity to Cape Town and the inadequate measures put in place to deal with an emergency where radioactive releases were present (Cape Argue, 23 June, 1983). The Cape Town City Council raised concerns in 1984 (Cape Times, 19 December, 1984) that Koeberg was located too close to Cape Town. The memorandum was endorsed by the Executive Committee who also expressed dissatisfaction at the nature of the emergency procedures demonstrated by Eskom. International Atomic Energy Agency guidelines suggested a minimum distance of 80km from inhabited areas yet these had been ignored (Koeberg is 27km from the city). New guidelines suggest that this limit may be relaxed, and in some cases in France it has been argued that the exclusion zone may be as little as 5km.

It is also argued that nuclear power stations should not be located on the "up-rain" side of a city; as in the event of a nuclear diasaster, the rain could bring the nuclear dust down onto the city. In Cape Town most of the rain comes from the north-west