UAE nuclear plant start-up depends on review outcome - regulator

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The United Arab Emirates’ nuclear regulator on Sunday said the start-up of a reactor at the country’s first nuclear power plant, which has already been delayed, would depend on the outcome of further reviews of the project.

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 plant with four reactors has total capacity of 5,600 megawatts (MW) of electricity.

Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is building the four APR-1400 reactors simultaneously.

In May, the plant’s operator said the plant’s first nuclear reactor should start operations between the end of 2019 and early 2020.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Sunday said its Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) team completed their third phase review of the UAE’s nuclear project and has identified areas that need further action before starting operations.

Asked if the UAE was confident of meeting the late 2019/early 2020 deadline of the first reactor start-up, Raoul Awad, the deputy director of general operations of the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) said they were reviewing the license for the operator to ensure that it fulfills all safety and regulatory requirements.

“We do not prioritize schedules or the quality, readiness or safety. Whenever it is ready, we will issue the license,” he told reporters, without being more specific.

The IAEA review team has made nine recommendations, seven suggestions and identified seven good practises for the UAE to implement, Milo Kovachev, team leader of INIR said.

The IAEA will send its draft report to the UAE on July 20 and the UAE has to respond within a month. The IAEA plans to send the final approved report to the UAE in September this year, he said.

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