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© Sputnik / Olga Dycheva 2nd Nucler Plant Site, Rooppur, Bangladesh
2nd Nucler Plant Site, Rooppur, Bangladesh - Sputnik International
With the construction of the first unit of Bangladesh's nuclear power plant (NPP) at Rooppur advancing rapidly, the stage is all set for the construction of the second unit. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will be pouring the first concrete at the construction site of the second unit on Saturday.

Rooppur, Bangladesh (Sputnik) – The ASE Group of Companies, a unit of Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Corporation that is managing the construction of Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant says that it is confident of completing the project on time while keeping quality and safety as its topmost priorities.

In an exclusive conversation with Sputnik, Senior Vice President for International Project of ASE Group of Companies Alexander Khazin informed that the power units of NPP Rooppur will use the VVER-1200 reactors of the 3+ generation. These innovative units with improved technical and economic characteristics would fully comply with the latest IAEA safety standards. 

Sputnik: Please tell us the current status of the work going on at the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant?

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Alexander Khazin: Construction of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant began in 2017 when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina poured the first concrete of the first unit. The primary phase of the first unit's construction is complete and commercial launch of the unit, powered by a VVER-1200 nuclear reactor, which belongs to the latest 3+ generation is scheduled for 2023. As for the second unit, a license for its design and construction has been obtained recently. We consume on an average 5,000 tons of cement daily, which fully corresponds to our current needs.

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Sputnik: Please tell us how different companies are working in harmony on this truly international project?

Alexander Khazin: Presently, 4,500 people are involved in the construction work. Among them, one third are from Russia, other specialists are from companies of Bangladesh, India, France, Germany. By 2020-2021 when the start-up and adjustment works are likely to start, around 12,000 people will be involved. We have the system in place that allows us to work for the result — the successful commissioning of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant. That makes the ambiance friendly and positive. The system is structured to let people work in one information space, to use common standards in Russian and English language. 

For the nuclear industry, it is a stellar example of international cooperation. Rosatom is willing to share its experience, expertise, and solutions regarding all aspects of nuclear power plants' construction, as well as to provide the necessary support for personnel training.

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Sputnik: How will this project aid Bangladesh's economy?

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Alexander Khazin: While Bangladesh aims to become a developed country by 2041, the Rooppur plant is one of the largest national projects. Presently, Bangladesh is in the process of establishing several export processing zones to speed up the economic growth; therefore, demand for electricity is estimated to rise multifold, which can be met through nuclear power generated through the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.

Sputnik: Safety of Nuclear Power Plants is a global concern after the Fukushima nuclear accident. What safety measures have been taken into consideration at Rooppur?

Alexander Khazin: On June 21, 2016, the BAERA issued the license to the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) to initiate preparatory work at the Rooppur NPP site after 63 inspections ranging from air, soil and seismic surveys to environmental impact assessment.

At the same time, BAERA gave its nod for the project. Each phase of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant's construction is being and will be implemented under the strict supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA).

The Russian nuclear power plant projects use light water reactors of the VVER type (water-cooled water-moderated shell-type reactors with pressurized water).

At present, VVER nuclear power plants are under various stages of construction in Iran, Belarus, Hungary and other countries. This type of reactors uses water both as a neutron moderator and as a reactor coolant. 

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VVER reactors are considered to be among the safest in the world; this technology is the base of Russia's nuclear power development program and contributes to the export growth. Over the 50 years of their operation, the NPPs with VVER reactors (VVER-440, VVER-1000) have proven their reliability, stability, and competitiveness in the international energy market, ensuring stable growth of the nuclear industry.

READ MORE: Bangladesh’s First Nuclear Power Plant Likely to See Russia-India Collaboration

Sputnik: What are the main advantages of the VVER-1200 reactors over other existing technologies? 

Alexander Khazin: Presently, VVER-1200 is the most powerful reactor in Russia with three main advantages: high productivity, long service life and safety. The main feature of the VVER-1200 project is a unique combination of active and passive safety systems that provide maximum resilience to external and internal impacts, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and air crashes.

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Passive safety systems are able to function even under conditions of complete power failure ensuring safety even without the contribution of the active safety systems or (human) operational intervention. For example, the Passive Heat Removal System (PHRS) provides long-term heat removal from the reactor core in case of all the power sources' shutdown. A molten core catcher (MCC) or a "melt trap" is designed to keep the molten core material inside and cool it down in case of a hypothetical accident that could lead to the core damage. A core catcher ensures the integrity of the containment vessel, preventing radioactive leaks into the environment, even in case of a hypothetical severe accident.

The VVER-1200 generation 3+ technology was first implemented at Novovoronezh NPP-2 in Russia, where the first power unit of that type was connected to the grid on August 5, 2016, marking the transition to the use of the generation 3+ reactors. In March 2018, another VVER-1200 reactor was connected to the power grid and started power production at Unit 1 of the Leningrad NPP-2.

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