UAE’s first nuclear reactor start-up delayed, says operator

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The start-up of the Arab world’s first nuclear reactor - in the United Arab Emirates - has been delayed and should start operations between the end of 2019 and early 2020, the plant’s operator said on Saturday.

Nawah Energy Company, the operator of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the Al-Dhafra Region of Abu Dhabi, said it “has completed a comprehensive operational readiness review” for an updated start-up schedule for the reactor.

The $24.4 billion Barakah power plant is the world’s largest nuclear project under construction and will be the first in the Arab world.

“The results of Nawah’s review forecast that the loading of nuclear fuel assemblies required to commence nuclear operations at Barakah Unit 1 will occur between the end of 2019 and early 2020,” it said in a statement.

Reuters reported in March that the start-up had been pushed back to 2019 due to training delays.

“The resulting projection for the start-up of Unit 1 operations reflects the time required for the plant’s nuclear operators to complete operational readiness activities and to obtain necessary regulatory approvals,” Nawah said.

The first of four reactors being built by Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) in the UAE is part of the Barakah power plant project that was originally scheduled to open last year.

Barakah One is a joint venture between Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and KEPCO.

The UAE will be the first new country to acquire nuclear power in more than two decades.

Bangladesh, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are preparing to follow suit and the World Nuclear Association estimates that nuclear power is planned in over 20 countries which do not currently have it.

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