Protecting persons,
property and the environment
Protecting persons,
property and the environment

Table of Contents


The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) is a public entity which is established and governed in terms of Section 3 of the National Nuclear Regulator Act, (Act No 47 of 1999) to provide for the protection of persons, property and the environment against nuclear damage through the establishment of safety standards and regulatory practices.

It is responsible for granting nuclear authorisations and exercising regulatory control related to safety over the siting, design, construction, operation, manufacture of component parts, and the decontamination, decommissioning and closure of nuclear installations; and vessels propelled by nuclear power or having radioactive material on board which is capable of causing nuclear damage.

The facilities and actions regulated by the NNR are diverse and includes the operation of nuclear power reactors, research reactors, nuclear technology applications, radioactive waste management, mining and processing of radioactive ores, users of small quantities of radioactive material, transport of radioactive materials, vessels propelled by nuclear power or having radioactive material on board and to any other actions capable of causing nuclear damage to which the National Nuclear Regulator Act applies.

The National Nuclear Regulator Act gives the NNR powers to grant, amend and revoke authorisations, and to impose such conditions upon authorisation holders as it deems necessary. It establishes the basis for regulatory control by alluding to acceptable risk as the determinant. The legislation specifies that a holder of authorisation for any facility or activity that gives rise to radiation risks has the prime responsibility for safety and is liable for any nuclear damage caused by their facility or activities.

Our Role and Functions

The NNR is primarily mandated to monitor and enforce regulatory safety standards for the achievement of safe operating conditions, prevention of nuclear accidents or mitigation of nuclear accident consequences, resulting in the protection of workers, public, property and the environment against the potential harmful effects of ionizing radiation or radioactive material.

To fulfil its mandate, the NNR advocates the development and maintenance of appropriate regulatory frameworks for enforcing regulatory radiation safety standards which are consistent with the recommendations of the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP) and the International Atomic Agency (IAEA).

The NNR’s approach to regulatory functions is commensurate with the radiation risks associated with a specific facility or activity. These include functions such as safety case reviews and assessments, authorisations, compliance assurance inspections, enforcement, drafting of regulatory documents and overseeing emergency planning and preparedness.

Nuclear Authorisations

A nuclear authorisation is the process of granting a written approval by the National Nuclear Regulator to applicants and / or operating organisations to perform nuclear related activities as detailed in the scope of authorisation. The authorisation process involves receiving, reviewing and approval of authorisation requests from applicants and / or authorisation holders.

The NNR Act makes provision for the granting of four categories of nuclear authorisation. These are:

  • Nuclear Installation Licences;
  • Nuclear Vessel Licences;
  • Certificates of Registration, and
  • Certificates of Exemption.
Nuclear Authorisation Process

Prior to the granting of an authorisation, the applicant is required to apply to the NNR, in the prescribed format, detailing the intended activities and providing a demonstration of safety and compliance to the NNR requirements. The documentation submitted must address licensing aspects in the design of any facilities concerned and safety in the way the facility will be constructed, commissioned, operated, maintained and decommissioned.

The authorisation conditions represent a framework within which the applicant or holder of the nuclear authorisation is obliged to comply with particular requirements in respect of design, operation, maintenance and decommissioning. The conditions of authorisation also oblige the holder of the authorisation to provide a demonstration of compliance through the submission of routine and non-routine reports.

Standard conditions included in a nuclear authorisation address:

  • The description and configuration of the authorised facility or action;
  • Requirements in respect of modification to facilities;
  • Operational requirements in the form of operating technical specifications, procedures or programmes as appropriate;
  • Maintenance testing and inspection requirements;
  • Operational radiation protection programmes;
  • Radioactive waste management programmes;
  • Emergency planning and preparedness requirements as appropriate;
  • Physical security;
  • Transport of radioactive material;
  • Public exposure safety assessments;
  • Quality assurance
Safety case review and assessment

A safety case is a collection of safety arguments and evidence in support of the safety of a facility or action. The safety case provided must identify and characterise all sources of radiation associated with the facility, and all possible exposure pathways that may arise from such sources, under normal operating conditions and under accident situations.

The NNR undertakes an evaluation of the submitted documentation to ensure that the action or facility will meet the standards and requirements for safe operation. From the evaluation, conditions are identified for inclusion in the nuclear authorisation.

Who should apply for a Nuclear
Installation or Vessel License?
  • Any person wishing to site, construct, operate, decontaminate or decommission a nuclear installation may apply in the prescribed format to the chief executive officer for a nuclear installation license and must furnish such information as the board requires.
  • Any person wishing to anchor or sojourn in the territorial waters of the Republic: or enter any port in the Republic with a vessel which is propelled by nuclear power or which has on board any radioactive material capable of causing nuclear damage may apply to the chief executive officer for a nuclear vessel license and must furnish such information as the board requires
Who should apply for a Certificate of Registration or Exemption for certain actions?

Any person wishing to engage in any action described in section 2(1)(c) of the NNR Act, may apply in the prescribed format to the chief executive officer for a certificate of registration or a certificate of exemption and must furnish such information as the board requires.

Compliance Assurance & Enforcement

The primary role of the NNR is to monitor and enforce regulatory safety over a diverse range of facilities and actions for the achievement of safe operating conditions, prevention of nuclear accidents and mitigation of nuclear accident consequences. Facilities and actions currently under NNR regulatory control includes; safety over the Koeberg nuclear power station, the Pelindaba research and production facilities, the Vaalputs nuclear waste repository and the mining and processing of uranium and other radioactive ores.

Compliance Assurance

The NNR conducts compliance assurance activities to determine the extent to which holders of nuclear authorisations comply with the conditions of authorisation. The extent and nature of the NNR’s compliance assurance activities is commensurate with the type of authorisation issued and the risk posed by the facility or action. The compliance assurance activities involve a combination of audits, routine inspections, non-routine inspections, review of routine reports and review of occurrence reports.


Where non-compliance with the conditions of authorisation is identified, the NNR may initiate enforcement actions. Enforcement actions are designed to respond to non-compliances with specified conditions and requirements. The enforcement actions are commensurate with the seriousness of the non-compliance and may take the form of written warnings, penalties, curtailment of operations, suspension of the authorisation, or ultimately withdrawal of the authorisation. In all cases, the holder of the authorisation is required to remedy the non-compliance by:

  • Performing a thorough investigation in accordance with an agreed timescale; and
  • Taking all necessary measures to prevent recurrence.
  • In certain instances, the NNR has performed its own investigation.
  • Providing assurance of safety performance of holders of a nuclear authorisation through inspections, audits, investigations and taking of enforcement action for identified non-compliances.
  • Strengthening independent analytical verification capability and capacity within the NNR.
  • Enhancing regulatory Programmes and the application of safety focused research.

Eco Glades Office Park
Eco Glades 2Block G
Witch Hazel Avenue
Highveld Ext 75
Eco Park

Telephone: +27 (12) 674 7100

Facsimile: +27 (12) 663 5513



12 Raats Drive
Delphi Arch Building
Cape Town

P.O. Box 46055

Telephone: +27 (21) 553 9500

Regulatory Emergency Response Centre

Tel: +27 (12) 674 7120 (during response)

Fax: 086 742 6038


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