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#236December 2020

Nation’s Pride

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The coronavirus pandemic has not affected the construction of Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant, said Shawkat Akbar, Director of the Rooppur Project on the Bangladeshi side. Thousands of engineers and workers are involved in the construction. According to the project schedule, the first 1,200 MW reactor unit will be brought online in 2023. According to Shawkat Akbar, the prime minister and relevant authorities also supervise the construction of Green City, a residential development for employees of the nuclear power plant.

Close and efficient cooperation between Russia and Bangladesh makes it possible to follow the construction schedule strictly. Russian nuclear companies manufacture and ship equipment for Rooppur NPP right on time.

In early December, the Volgodonsk-based production facility of AEM Technologies (part of Rosatom’s mechanical engineering division Atomenergomash) shipped steam headers for the first reactor unit of the nuclear power plant. The steam header is a major component of the steam generator. It is more than 11 meters long and weighs over 7 tons. The steam headers were sent by road to the port of Saint Petersburg where they will be transshipped onto the barge to be delivered to the construction site. The sea route to the port of destination is about 14,000 km long.

In late November, the same production facility finished manufacturing reactor internals for the first unit of Rooppur NPP. These include an 11-meter core barrel, a core baffle and a protective tube unit, all together weighing more than 179 tons. Before being shipped to the customer, the reactor internals were assembled in a standard reactor pressure vessel to test how they fit with other components. In the future, this will reduce the time needed to assemble them at the nuclear plant.

The production facility of AEM Technologies will manufacture two reactors, including reactor internals, RPV heads and eight steam generators, for the Rooppur NPP.

OKB Gidropress, another subsidiary of Atomenergomash, has shipped a set of incremental electromagnetic drives for the I&C system of Rooppur Unit 1. The shipment was preceded by visual inspection and acceptance tests on hot functional testing stands. The products were inspected by representatives of relevant organizations – Zarubezhatomenergostroy (ZAES) and Foreign trade organization Bezopasnost representing the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA).

The Petrozavodsk-based production facility of AEM Technologies completed hydraulic tests on the casings of primary coolant pumps. The tests serve to ensure that the products are strong and tight. Primary coolant pump casings are Class 1 safety products. The pumps circulate coolant between the reactor and steam generators.

Along with building the new power plant, Bangladesh is working hard to create a nuclear infrastructure in the country. This includes, among other things, training of human resources, educational programs, and raising public awareness of nuclear energy.

On November 30, the third anniversary of the first concrete pouring for Rooppur NPP, a Public Information Center (PIC) on Nuclear opened in Ishwardi.

Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) member Abdus Salam was present to cut the ceremonial ribbon to mark the beginning of the operation of this information center. A number of officials from BAEC were present at the ceremony along with ANO Energy of the Future and Atomstroyexport (ASE) officials. The honorable mayor of Ishwardi municipality, Abul Kalam Azad Mintu, was present with many of municipality counselors.

Abdus Salam was very enthusiastic about the inauguration of the PIC. He said, “The people of Rooppur has always been very helpful to the cause of Rooppur NPP.”

Abul Kalam Azad Mintu said that he was born in the very neighborhood that the Rooppur nuclear power plant is growing upon, so the power plant has a warm place in his heart.

The Public Information Center will help to remove information barriers and provide the Greater Pabna residents with an opportunity to get answers to their questions on the use of nuclear energy, operation of the Rooppur NPP, radiation safety, social initiatives and activities such as job opportunities offered by the nuclear plant, and other issues.

The Public Information Center on Nuclear will start its offline activities when this becomes possible and the existing restrictions are lifted. Now, according to the Project Manager Sakif Ahmed, the center plans to continue its activities through online media such as Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, etc.

In addition to nuclear awareness initiatives, the government of Bangladesh is developing and enacting government programs and regulations that are needed to create the national nuclear infrastructure.

In mid-November, the online meeting of the Bangladesh Cabinet of Ministers chaired by Sheikh Hasina Wazed approved the National Nuclear or Radiological Emergency Response Plan. It is designed to set up safety measures for the Rooppur NPP, said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam at a media briefing organized in the headquarters of the Bangladesh government.

“The IAEA requires us to have guiding principles on protection and safety and response plans in case of emergencies at such power plants, otherwise we will not be allowed to put them into operation. The National Nuclear or Radiological Emergency Response Plan was prepared on the basis of the emergency response and other similar plans already adopted in Bangladesh,” Khandker Anwarul Islam said.

Availability of such documents is necessary to meet international standards. However, experts stress that nuclear is a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly source of energy. The Rooppur nuclear power plant will have Generation III+ VVER‑1200 reactors. Featuring improved technology and cost efficiency, these innovative reactor units guarantee safe operation and fully meet IAEA safety standards. VVER‑1200 is the most powerful Russian-designed reactor boasting three main advantages — ​high performance, long service life and safety. What makes VVER‑1200 reactors different is their unique combination of active and passive safety features ensuring maximum resistance to external and internal impacts, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and plane crashes.

It is hard to overemphasize the role of the Rooppur NPP and subsequent nuclear energy projects for the country’s economic development for the decades to come. This is the reason why the government of Bangladesh believes it to be a top priority project.