UAE authority ready to license nuclear reactor

Unit 1 scheduled to become operational later this year once all regulatory procedures are met

18:28 January 30, 2018

Abu Dhabi: The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) on Tuesday said it is prepared to issue licence to commence operations at Unit 1 of Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.

The nuclear power plant — which will be operated by Nawah Energy Company — is scheduled to start operations this year with the opening of its first nuclear reactor. The FANR, the UAE’s official regulatory body for the nuclear sector, is tasked with overseeing and green lighting the project once all regulatory procedures have been met.

Speaking at a media briefing, Christer Viktorsson, FANR’s director-general, said the regulatory body was now waiting for Nawah to confirm its preparedness to start operations at Unit 1, after which a draft licence would be put forward for approval by the FANR’s board of management.

“Depending on their readiness we are ready to issue the operating licence [to start operations at Unit 1] … From my side [I will present] a draft licence to our board of management,” he said.

“The reactor is almost technically ready and what is the main focus of our activity for the time being is to verify that the reactor has been built according to the safety analysis and all the regulatory requirements we have,” he added.

“Whenever Nawah is ready to put the reactor in operation, we are going to ensure that it is done in a safe and secure way,” he said.

Viktorsson said that more than 40 site visits were carried out by FANR at the Barakah site in 2017 to inspect the site’s readiness for operations.

“Inspections included verification of the licensee’s operator training and certification programme and organisational readiness for Unit 1 operations, cyber security, nuclear fuel storage as well as other requirements.

“The operating licence will be issued when the operator meets all regulatory requirements,” he added.

Viktorsson said that FANR will also start reviewing the licence for Units 3 and 4 after they approve the final licensing for Unit 1.

The director-general also spoke about the group’s local capacity building, and noted that 64 per cent of its workforce was made up of Emiratis.

“The FANR remains dedicated to developing Emiratis in the nuclear sector, and this forms part of its capacity building and sustainability efforts.

“Long-term career opportunities for Emiratis at FANR are achieved through focused recruitment and training and development programmes. In 2017, FANR’s total workforce reached 222 employees, 64 per cent of whom are Emiratis,” he added.

Expected to be fully completed by 2020, the four reactors at the Barakah nuclear site will provide 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity needs, and will also reduce CO2 emissions in the country by 21 million tonnes annually, proving itself to be both a clean and sustainable new source of energy for the country.