THE LEVANT – As regulatory approval is granted for the construction of Barakah units 3 and 4, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has stepped up efforts to develop a skilled Emirati workforce to staff the country’s growing nuclear sector.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) board of management approved ENEC’s application to build two additional Korean-designed APR1400 pressurized water reactors yesterday. The licence permits ENEC to construct the reactors, as well as to import equipment and technology exclusively for use in the project and to conduct activities related to the construction project, but not to operate the reactors. For that, the company must apply for a separate operating licence. According to FANR, ENEC is expected to apply next year for a licence to operate the first two Barakah units. Unit 1 is expected to come on line in 2017, with unit 2 following in 2018.
Site preparation work is already under way for units 3 and 4 under a limited construction licence from FANR. The approval of the full construction licence will enable the company to go ahead with pouring initial safety concrete. The units are scheduled to enter operation in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
The construction licence was granted following an 18-month regulatory review of all relevant safety factors including the site itself, the reactor design, safety analysis, quality assurance, radiation safety, physical protection and safeguards. It also incorporated lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. FANR worked closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Korean nuclear regulators during the review.
FANR says it will publish a summary of the safety evaluation report for the units on its website.
ENEC anticipates that it will need to employ over 2500 people by 2020, with a target for 60% of those to be Emiratis, so building a well-qualified workforce to support the UAE’s nuclear energy industry is one of the company’s key goals. On the same day that FANR authorised construction to begin on Barakah 3 and 4, ENEC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Abu Dhabi Polytechnic on a joint vocational training program to deliver a customized nuclear curriculum to students on ENEC’s Energy Pioneers scholarship program.
The program offers students a combination of theoretical education and practical experience to prepare them for technical careers at the UAE’s nuclear energy plants.