UAE's nuclear plant is now ready to start operations

UAE's nuclear plant is now ready to start operations
Published: 29 January 2020 - 10:13 a.m.
By: Baset Asaba

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, ENEC, and its subsidiary Nawah Energy Company, Nawah, have announced that an extensive operational readiness assessment performed by an international team of nuclear industry experts from the Atlanta Centre of the World Association of Nuclear Operators, WANO, has concluded that Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in Abu Dhabi is ready to start up.

The WANO Pre-start Up Review, PSUR, is a globally-recognised nuclear industry assessment which is conducted in line with the international industry standards set by WANO, of which ENEC and Nawah are both members.

During the PSUR process, which took place in November 2019, WANO teams reviewed and examined numerous functional and cross-functional areas that are essential for the safe start-up and operation of the Unit, ranging from operator performance and operations and maintenance, through to work management and emergency preparedness. The final results of the PSUR were recently communicated by WANO Atlanta Center representatives, which confirmed that Unit 1 of the Barakah plant is ready to start up.

The WANO PSUR comes after a series of assessments carried out by several national and international regulatory organizations during the past years. International collaboration with nuclear organizations is a central commitment of the 2008 Policy of the UAE on the Evaluation and Potential Development of Peaceful Nuclear Energy. The policy set the objective to "engage WANO and its members to provide assessments and shared experience feedback" as an essential component of its commitments to complete operational transparency, as well as the continuous pursuit of the highest standards of safety and security.

"The fact that our first Unit and our team of experts successfully completed this international start up assessment by WANO is a major milestone for the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme," said Mohamed Al Hammadi, ENEC CEO.

"It provides international recognition that our plant, people and processes meet international start up standards and that the Barakah plant fully aligns to the commitments made in 2008 by the Nation of complete operational transparency, and the pursuit of the highest standards of safety, quality and security. We take this achievement with great responsibility while we continue to support Nawah in obtaining regulatory approval from FANR to safely and gradually commence producing clean, safe and reliable electricity to power the growth of the UAE for the next 60 years."

The PSUR is the culmination of over 30 support missions and peer reviews by WANO, and reflects Nawah’s strong Culture of Safety and commitment to upholding the highest international standards of safety, security, quality, and transparency.

It also demonstrates the success of Nawah’s ongoing operational readiness activities as it prepares to load the first nuclear fuel assemblies into Unit 1, which is expected to take place in Q1 2020, once all requirements have been met and Nawah is in receipt of the Operating License from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, FANR, the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator.

Mark Reddemann, Chief Executive Officer of Nawah Energy Company, said, "Successfully completing WANO’s PSUR of Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is a testament to our commitment to the highest national and international regulations and standards. As we progress towards the secure and safety-led start-up of Unit 1, we will continue to work closely with our partners to ensure we demonstrate our readiness to receive the Operating License from the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, as we work to pursue the highest standards of operational excellence."

Nawah is concluding the final requirements to demonstrate operational readiness in preparation to receive the Operating License from FANR, prior to commencing the loading of the first fuel assemblies safely into Unit 1 of the Barakah plant, scheduled for Q1 2020. Once the fuel assemblies are loaded into the reactor, Nawah will begin the start-up sequence for Power Ascension Testing, where operators will safely raise power generation levels over a number of months, prior to commercial operation.

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