Cape Town - Electricity provider Eskom says a police investigation is underway into a drone crash at its Koeberg nuclear power facility just outside Cape Town.
Eskom on Wednesday, in a statement, said that a drone had crashed into its Koeberg Power Station site and that the company had suspended its safety officer.
The drone crash happened late last week on the Koeberg property but in an area “very far from the nuclear installation”, Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Fin24.
“In terms of the rules from the national nuclear regulator, we need to report anything that is out of the ordinary that happens at that site,” Phasiwe told Fin24 by phone.
“And this thing that flew over our facility was not ordinary and therefore it was supposed to have been recorded so that we could see what measures could be put in place to mitigate against such incidents,” Phasiwe said.
Eskom has a protocol to report on anything that happens at its power stations and the Koeberg nuclear facility has even stricter requirements, said Phasiwe.
But when the drone landed on the Koeberg property last week, the Eskom staff then handed the flying device back to its owners, according to Phasiwe.
“Possibly they [Eskom security staff] thought maybe it was just a small thing. And maybe it was a small thing, because we just don’t know,” Phasiwe told Fin24.
“The police are investigating the matter though to see as to what went wrong and what can be done to make sure that something like this does not happen in future,” Phasiwe said.
The incident at Koeberg comes after South Africa enacted drone regulations last year in July.
The regulations allow for a wide array of commercial operations of drones in South Africa ranging from filming, mining and security to search and rescue purposes.
To operate commercially, drone pilots, though, have to be fully licensed. However, drones flown purely for private or hobby use do not require licences, but cannot be operated within 50m of people, buildings or roads, according to local drone operators Drone Crew. Drones for private use are also not allowed to be used within 10km of registered airports, according to Drone Crew.
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