Plant Operation

Barakah Progress / UAE Regulator Grants Operating Licence For Unit 1

By Kamen Kraev
17 February 2020

Region's first plant cleared for fuel loading
UAE Regulator Grants Operating Licence For Unit 1
The four-unit Barakah nuclear power station in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Photo courtesy Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation.
The United Arab Emirates’ Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (Fanr) has issued the operating licence for Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear station in the Middle Eastern country.

Fanr said in a statement that the licence has an “estimated duration” of 60 years and authorises operator Nawah Energy Company to commission and operate the 1,345-MW Barakah-1 plant.

In March 2015, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), Nawah’s parent company, applied for operating licences for the Barakah-1 and -2 nuclear plants.

Fanr said that during the licensing assessment process, it reviewed 14,000 pages of licensing application documentation, carried out more than 185 inspections, and requested approximately 2,000 additional pieces of information on various matters related to reactor design, safety and other issues.

The assessment included reviewing the plant’s reactor design, cooling systems, security arrangements, emergency preparedness, radioactive waste management, as well as an analysis of the site’s location in terms of geography and demography, the statement said.

Fanr also assessed Nawah’s organisational and manpower readiness to ensure the safety and security of Barakah-1.

Fanr said the UAE received in the past decade 11 major peer review missions by the International Atomic Energy Agency which evaluated various aspects related to nuclear infrastructure, the legal and regulatory system, nuclear safety, nuclear security, emergency preparedness and non-proliferation.

Last month, the World Association of Nuclear Operators (Wano) said that Barakah-1 is ready to start up after conducting a pre-startup industry peer review.

Enec is building four South Korean APR-1400 reactors at Barakah, about 240 km west of Abu Dhabi city in the UAE. The $24.4bn facility will be the first in the Arab world.

Construction of Unit 1 is complete and the plant has been turned over to operator Nawah for preparation to operate, pending regulatory approval.

Commercial operation of Barakah-1 was scheduled for 2017 following the start of construction in July 2012. But in May 2017 Enec said commercial operation had been put back to 2018.

At the time Enec said the delay was to ensure sufficient time for international assessments and adherence to nuclear industry safety standards, and “as a reinforcement of operational proficiency for plant personnel”. This followed a series of assessments and lessons learned from Shin-Kori-3 in South Korea, the reference plant for Barakah.

Loading of the first nuclear fuel assemblies into the reactor core of Barakah-1 is now expected to take place in the first quarter of 2020.

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