The first safety-related concrete has been poured for the foundation slab of the initial reactor at the Barakah site in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The move came just one day after the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) was issued with a construction licence for two units at the site.
Witnessed by Enec senior management and representatives from the company’s prime contractor Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco), more than 1500 cubic metres of concrete was poured to form a portion of the foundation slab of the reactor containment building of Barakah unit 1. Enec expects to pour the first concrete for unit 2 in 2013.
The Federal Authority of Nuclear Regulation (FANR) issued the construction licence to Enec on 17 July, just days after the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) gave environmental approval. During the construction phase, FANR will carry out inspections to verify that Enec conducts the activities in accordance with regulations and licence conditions.
Preparatory site works have already been conducted for the two Barakah units by Enec under a limited construction licence. This has included excavation work for both reactors, as well as installing structural rebar and laying a thin concrete lining at the bottom of the excavation to create a smooth, flat surface in readiness for the installation of the safety-related concrete basemat. Construction of marine breakwaters and a wharf has already started, as has dredging for water intake and outfall channels.
Fabrication of the lining plate for containment building will take place on-site and its installation using heavy lift cranes is expected to start by the end of the year.
Enec CEO Mohamed Al Hammadi commented, “This has been a momentous week for the UAE’s peaceful civil nuclear energy program. We have received approval from our regulators on the extensive safety analysis that led to the selection of our selected site, Barakah, and our chosen technology, the APR-1400, and today we commence the construction of the UAE’s first nuclear power plant.”
Enec must apply to FANR for a separate licence to actually operate the units. The company said that it plans to apply for an operating licence for Barakah unit 1 in 2015, two years before the reactor is scheduled to enter commercial operation.
In a $20 billion deal announced in December 2009, Enec selected a Korean consortium led by Kepco to build four APR-1400 reactors. All four units planned for Barakah, close to the border with Saudi Arabia, should be in operation by 2020.