Bangladesh to begin the main phase of the construction of its first Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) this month with the first concrete to be poured on November, 30. The ceremony will witness the participation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, high-level official sources told Nuclear Asia.
“Bangladesh’s nuclear energy programme will reach a significant landmark as the first concrete will be poured on November, 30 for our first nuclear power plant at Rooppur. The First Concrete Pouring Day will mark the beginning of construction the nuclear power plant, a milepost in Bangladesh’s development history,” sources added.
The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will consist of two units powered by VVER-1200 nuclear reactors. Russia will be supplying the necessary equipment and nuclear fuel. The project management team and the RNPP operational and maintenance personnel will be trained by Moscow. Bangladesh has also signed two inter-governmental and inter-agency agreements with India under which the Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) of India will provide training and consultancy services for the implementation of the RNPP project.
“Bangladesh has adopted the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Milestones guidelines for addressing infrastructure related issues like legal and regulatory framework, management plan, technological requirements, safety, finance and human resource development,” Dr. Mohammad Shawkat Akbar recently told the Daily Star newspaper. The IAEA had inspected the development of national infrastructure for Phase 1 and 2 of the nuclear reactor in 2011 under an Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission. In total 50 recommendations were made. Thereafter, Bangladesh mooted an integrated work plan for the period of 2012-15 to implement the recommendations.
Bangladesh has not been leaving any stone unturned since 2009 to adhere to IAEA guidelines. Director General of IAEA Yukiya Amano, who visited the RNPP project site in Pabna on July 3, 2017, expressed his satisfaction over compliance to international guidelines in implementing the nuclear project. He also added that Bangladesh is constructing the plant maintaining high standards of security measures.
The legal and regulatory frameworks have been put in place to pave way for the construction of the first Nuclear power plant of Bangladesh. The safety procedures, in the aftermath of the The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, have also been taken care of. Project Director Dr Akbar says that “after the Fukushima accident the government has put greater emphasis on the site safety aspects and engineering solutions to increase resistance of plants to extreme events and cliff edge effects”.
“Five layers of safety barriers would be put in place. The nuclear power plant units have been designed by adopting site-specific safety measures. The design basis for natural and human-induced external events such as earthquakes, floods, aircraft crash, explosions, etc., and the radiological impact on the population and on the territory during both normal and accidental conditions have already been analysed and defined,” Dr. Akbar added.
The Bangladesh government has also addressed the concerns around how to dispose the spent fuel of nuclear power plant by entering a contract with Moscow, under which the spent fuel will be returned to Russia for further processing.
Presently, a workforce of 369 professionals is working in the project management unit but eventually the Nuclear Power Plant Company will need to recruit and train 2,700 personnel every year to keep the plant running. In view of this the Bangladeshi government is encouraging its officials and students to undertaken several training and education programmes. Fifty students are already in Russia to study nuclear engineering and more will be sent this year. On their return they will be part of the biggest milestone in the development history of the country. Dhaka University and Military Institute of Science and Technology have also established departments to provide higher education on nuclear engineering.
Apart from the energy, the nuclear power plant will also have important spin offs in terms of advancement of nuclear technology in other fields like agriculture and medicine.
According to Alexander Khazin, senior vice-president for international projects of АSE Group of Companies, an engineering division of Russia`s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, after pouring concrete into the foundation slab of the reactor compartment of the Unit 1 of the RNPP it takes about five years to build a reactor compartment, according to Khazin.
About nine months after the first concrete ceremony, work will begin to pour concrete into the foundation slab of the turbine island, which accommodates the main power generation equipment of the power plant.
Russia is building the plant and also providing a credit of $12 billion for the 2,400-megawatt project. The first unit is expected to go into production in 2022 and the second one in 2023.