Despite the severe economic impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the start up and construction schedule for the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in the United Arab Emirates is continuing unabated, the head of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation said.
“Following receipt of the Operating License from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) and the completing the load of fuel assemblies into the Unit 1 reactor, we are in the advanced stages of starting up Unit 1,” Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Hammadi said in a “virtual fireside chat,” that was held on March 7.
Hammadi said “this Unit will reach criticality very soon, and the COVID-19 pandemic did not derails us from our plans.”
The CEO also said there were 700 employees working to me the current timelines on the schedule and that, “testing has started also at Units 2,3, and 4, following the completion of all major construction work."
Moreover, Hammadi said that there has not been a single employee testing positive for the deadly virus that has put much of the globe's economic activities on hold.
With the Barakah nuclear power plant up and running, ENEC has bragging rights as completing the first full-scale nuclear plant project in the Arab world. Hammadi said the 5.6 gigawatts plant will provide clean energy and jobs as it annually subtracts the equivalent of 3.2 million cars worth of harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
Hanmmadi was joined in the virtual fireside chat with Frederick Kempe, president and CEO of the Atlantic Council Global Energy Center.
ENEC announced in early March that, following the successful completion of fuel assembly loading into Unit 1, the UAE has officially become a peaceful nuclear energy operating nation. The country joined 33 other nations have deployed nuclear power for electricity generation.
Recent delays in start up were prompted by the lack of trained technicians in the country who could operate a nuclear power plant. However, the fuel load for Unit 1 was led by a team of highly-trained and FANR-certified fuel operators, with over 90 percent participation of Emirati experts who were previously trained in the APR-1400 technology in South Korea. This team led the transfer and load of the 241 fuel assemblies into Unit 1.
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