The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), and its subsidiary Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), announced Tuesday that an extensive operational readiness assessment performed by an international team of nuclear industry experts from the Atlanta Center of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) has concluded that Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi is ready to start up.
As such, fuel loading is expected to begin by the end of March, ENEC said. The World Nuclear Association reported technicians had already begun loading the first of the 241 fuel assemblies required for Unit 1.
"The WANO Pre-start Up Review (PSUR) is a globally-recognized nuclear industry assessment which is conducted in line with the international industry standards set by WANO," ENEC said. Both ENEC and Nawah are WANO members.
During the PSUR process, which took place in November 2019, WANO teams reviewed and examined numerous functional and cross-functional areas that are essential for the safe start-up and operation of the Unit, ranging from operator performance and operations and maintenance, through to work management and emergency preparedness. The final results of the PSUR were recently communicated by WANO Atlanta Center representatives, which confirmed that Unit 1 of the Barakah plant is ready to start up.
The WANO PSUR comes after a series of assessments carried out by several national and international regulatory organizations during the past years. "International collaboration with nuclear organizations is a central commitment of the 2008 Policy of the UAE on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy," a statement said.
“The fact that our first Unit and our team of experts successfully completed this international start up assessment by WANO is a major milestone for the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program,” said ENEC CEO H.E. Eng. Mohamed Al Hammadi praised the milestone, saying it validated the nation's commitment to international safety standards and to the transparency of the project. The plant is expected to provide electricity for UAW "for the next 60 years," he said.
It also demonstrates the success of Nawah’s ongoing operational readiness activities as it prepares to load the first nuclear fuel assemblies into Unit 1, which is expected to take place in Q1 2020, once all requirements have been met and Nawah is in receipt of the Operating License from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator.
Mr. Mark Reddemann, Chief Executive Officer of Nawah Energy Company, said: “Successfully completing WANO’s PSUR of Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is a testament to our commitment to the highest national and international regulations and standards. As we progress towards the secure and safety-led start-up of Unit 1, we will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure we demonstrate our readiness to receive the Operating License from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, as we work to pursue the highest standards of operational excellence.”
"Nawah is concluding the final requirements to demonstrate operational readiness in preparation to receive the Operating License from FANR, prior to commencing the loading of the first fuel assemblies safely into Unit 1 of the Barakah plant, scheduled for Q1 2020," ENEC announced. "Once the fuel assemblies are loaded into the reactor, Nawah will begin the start-up sequence for Power Ascension Testing, where operators will safely raise power generation levels over a number of months, prior to commercial operation."
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