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By: News24, Ahmed Areff

Eskom's Koeberg nuclear power station outside Cape Town.

Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station outside Cape Town.

Gallo Images/Shaun Roy

Nuclear power station Koeberg’s problematic Unit 2 tripped on Saturday morning, less than a month after it was plagued by mechanical issues and a delayed return to service.

“Eskom can confirm the unit tripped from full power during a routine testing of the control rod,” spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha told Fin24.

“There are no nuclear safety concerns. The process to return the unit to service is underway.”

This is the continuation of a problem that hit the station earlier, when Eskom announced on 19 August that the unit was shut down when one of the control rods developed a mechanical problem during a routine test.

It is not immediately clear if the new trip at the unit, which has a capacity of 920MW, could increase the risk of load shedding.

When the problem hit in mid-August Eskom said at the time that repairing the unit could take up to five days, and the unit would still need three more days to ramp up. During that period it warned that the probability of load shedding would increase.

Delays in getting the unit back online at the beginning of August did however contribute to a bout of Stage 2 load shedding.

The power utility initially took Unit 2 offline in January for maintenance and refuelling. The power station intended for the unit to return to service in June and even delayed its steam generator replacement programme to reduce the risk of load shedding.

South Africans still however experienced unprecedented winter load shedding, which reached Stage 6 in late June – a first since December 2019.

At a briefing in July, Eskom announced Koeberg’s chief nuclear officer Riedewaan Bakardien would be resigning to join a Canadian nuclear utility, it also said that the Unit 2 outage would be completed that month. The unit however eventually returned to service on 7 August, before being affected by the control rod issue

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