The initial phase of the construction of the first unit of the country’s first ever Nuclear Power Plant at Rooppur is already over, and the license for construction of the second unit is expected soon. Senior Vice President for International Project of Atomstroyexport (ASE) Alexander Khazin spoke on the time-schedule to be followed in completion of the project and as well as the framework of cooperation under the trilateral agreement between Russia, India and Bangladesh. He said that while Russia will be the primary technology supplier, India will be the sub-contractor in sharing its expertise in training personnel for the Nuclear Power Plant in Bangladesh. He talked in details about implement of the project as well as other nitty-gritty’s of the power plant while talking to the Daily Sun. The excerpt is given below.
Question: Atomstroyexport (ASE) and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) have successfully entered into the main construction phase of Rooppur Nuclear Power plant. How is the construction of the project going on? Will the project be completed within the scheduled time frame?Answer: Construction of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant began in 2017 when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina poured the first concrete of the first unit. Primary phase of the first unit’s construction is completed and the commercial launch of the unit, powered by a VVER-1200 nuclear reactor, which belongs to the latest 3+ generation is scheduled for 2023.
As for the second unit, a license for its design and construction is to be obtained shortly, and immediately after that we will start the on-site construction activities by pouring the “first concrete”. Presently, 4,200 people are involved in construction work, and in general, we consume on an average 5,000 tons of cement daily, which fully corresponds to our current needs.
Construction of the nuclear power plant at Rooppur is on schedule and we hope to complete the project on time, while quality and safety remain our priorities.
While Bangladesh aiming to become a developed country by 2041, the Rooppur plant is one of the largest national projects. For nuclear industry it is a stellar example of international cooperation. Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom is willing to share its experience, expertise and solutions regarding all aspects of nuclear power plants’ construction, as well as to provide the necessary support for personnel training.
Question: How the safety of Rooppur nuclear power plant is ensured?
On June 21, 2016, the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA) had issued the license to the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) to initiate preparatory work at the Rooppur NPP site after 63 inspections ranging from air, soil and seismic surveys to environmental impact assessment. At the same time, BAERA gave its nod for the project. Each phase of the Rooppur nuclear plant construction is being and will be implemented under the strict supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA).The Russian nuclear power plant projects use light water reactors of the VVER type (water-cooled water-moderated shell-type reactors with pressurized water). At present, VVER nuclear power plants are under various stages of construction in Iran, Belarus, Hungary and other countries. This type of reactors uses water both as a neutron moderator and as a reactor coolant.
VVER reactors are considered to be among the safest in the world, this technology is the base of the Russia’s nuclear power development program and contributes to the export growth. Over the 50 years of their operation the NPPs with VVER reactors (VVER-440, VVER-1000) have proven their reliability, stability and competitiveness in the international energy market, ensuring stable growth of the nuclear industry.
The power units of NPP Rooppur will use the VVER-1200 reactors of the 3+ generation. These innovative units with improved technical and economic characteristics ensure absolute operational safety and fully comply with the IAEA post-Fukushima safety standards. Presently, VVER-1200 is the most powerful reactor in Russia with three main advantages: high productivity, long service life and safety. The main feature of the VVER-1200 project is a unique combination of active and passive safety systems that provide maximum resilience to external and internal impacts, including tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and air crashes.
Passive safety systems are able to function even under conditions of complete power failure ensuring complete safety even without the contribution of the active safety systems or (human) operational intervention. For example, the Passive Heat Removal System (PHRS) provides long-term heat removal from the reactor core in case of all the power sources’ shutdown. A molten core catcher (MCC) or a “melt trap” is designed to keep the molten core material inside and cool it down in case of a hypothetical accident that could lead to the core damage. A core catcher ensures the integrity of the containment vessel, preventing radioactive leaks into the environment, even in case of a hypothetical severe accident.
The VVER-1200 generation 3+ technology was first implemented at Novovoronezh NPP in Russia, where the first power unit of that type was connected to the grid on August 5, 2016, marking the transition to the use of the generation 3+ reactors. In March 2018, another VVER-1200 reactor was connected to the power grid and started power production at Unit 1 of the Leningrad NPP-2.
Question: When and how heavy equipment will be transported from Russia to the NPP site?
Answer: Each shipment of heavy and/or oversized cargo is a unique technological operation. Russian experts have studied a number of different options for delivery of such equipment to the site. We believe that the best option of delivery is river transport. The reactor vessel will be loaded on to a ship at the port of St. Petersburg, shipped to the port of Mongla, loaded onto a river vessel, and then delivered to the site through the Bangladesh river transport system. A special terminal for unloading the equipment is planned to be constructed at the Rooppur NPP site.
Presently, a heavy crane has been delivered to the first unit’s construction site to be used for installation of a critical safety system - the core catcher. We plan to start this work in late summer. Construction of nuclear and turbine sections is underway.
Question: Till now Bangladesh and Russia are constructing the Rooppur NPP. Recently, the countries have signed a so-called trilateral Memorandum of Understanding with India. Could you please provide some details on the role to be played by India and how it will impact the construction process?
Answer: The trilateral agreement was signed by India, Russia and Bangladesh in March 2018. The document establishes the basis for the interaction of the Russian contractor Atomstroyexport with Indian and Bangladeshi specialists in implementation of the project. In particular, the parties plan to cooperate in personnel training, experience sharing and consulting support. Under the agreement, Indian companies will participate in construction and installation work, supply of non-critical materials and equipment for the project.
Bangladesh also signed two intergovernmental and inter-agency agreements with India, according to which India’s Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) will provide training and consulting services for implementation of the Rooppur NPP project.
Question: Is it true that under the trilateral MoU, India will act as an NPP construction technology supplier?
Answer: That is not exactly correct. According to the document, Russia - as a technology supplier - undertakes to build the Rooppur NPP and to train personnel. The team of project managers, as well as operational personnel for the project will be trained in our country.
Currently, 369 specialists are already involved in the project management team, but in the end, the company-owner of the nuclear power plant will need to hire and train 2,700 employees to support the plant's operation.
In this situation, the Government of Bangladesh encourages staff and students to take courses and educational programs. Fifty students are already studying nuclear power technology in Russia, and by the end of the year the number will be increased. Upon their return, they will be involved in the largest project in the history of their country's development. The University of Dhaka and the Military Institute of Science and Technology have also organised college education programs in nuclear power.
India will join the project as a subcontractor. In the near future, Indian construction companies will take part in tenders for construction and installation works. At the same time, the Indian party can provide consulting support and share experience with the Bangladesh specialists within the Rooppur NPP project.