Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inspects a model of a nuclear power plant project during an international seminar, "Nuclear Power:
A Chance of Successful Economic, Social and Political Development", at a hotel in the capital yesterday. The programme was organised in cooperation with Russian Federation and International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) to create awareness among people about nuclear energy. Photo: BSS
Bangladesh should go ahead with its plan to build a nuclear power plant, as the use of atomic energy to meet rising electricity demand shows upward trend worldwide, even after the Fukushima disaster, a number of experts observed yesterday.
The safety of the plant, waste management, fuel cycle, uranium resources management and the issue of public acceptance are some of the challenges the government must deal with, they said.
All stakeholders must be engaged in the plan, and the plant's construction should not start without addressing their concerns, they observed in a seminar on “Nuclear Power: A Chance of Successful Economic and Socio-political Development” at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the capital.
“If any country does not care about addressing concerns of the society and different stakeholders in taking decisions, nuclear power programme may face delay and additional losses,” said Yu Sokolov, vice chairman of Russian state atomic corporation Rosatom, in his presentation on “Atomic Energy: tendencies and perspectives of XXI century”.
“I never said nuclear power is a unique solution to all problems. Nuclear will have to be considered in the mixes of all available sources in a particular country. In some countries nuclear may be a good solution, in some it may be not so good,” he said.
Explaining the pattern of energy consumption in different countries and impact of fossil fuel and coal on the climate, he said nuclear power is cost-effective, safe and sustainable.
Following the Fukushima disaster, the International Atomic Energy Agency assumed that the use of atomic energy would go down. But a number of indicators show its use is still on the rise in Asia, said Sokolov.
He, however, said Germany, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy had been phasing out nuclear power plants.
Currently, 67 reactors, including 47 in Asia, are under construction, and 40 countries have plans to build nuclear power plants. At least 437 nuclear reactors are in operation in 31 countries with a combined capacity of 370GW (gigawatt) electricity.
In his presentation on “Nuclear Power and Industrial Development”, M Casanova, vice president of Tecnicas Reunidas in Spain, described his country's successful experience in adopting nuclear reactors and developing technologies and human resources. He said nuclear power plants are viable in meeting energy deficiency.
On the role of atomic energy in the country's economy and socio-economic development, Dhaka University Vice Chancellor Prof Arefin Siddique said a huge amount of energy would be needed in developing countries to accelerate and sustain economic growth. And nuclear energy as a safe option is a solution to that, he added.
Speaking in a session on "Environmental Protection and Safety in Atomic Energy", Emmanuel Gout, head of international consulting alliance Stratinvest, said it became very important to educate people about nuclear plants after the Fukushima accident.
Nazarov Anatoly of the Public Council of Rosatom said, "In Bangladesh, a lot is left to be done in explaining strategies for setting up a plant."
Rosatom's Communication Director Sergey Novokov said people fear nuclear plants for not having experience of the facilities.
Elena Melikhova, head of the department of risk assessment and communications issues of the Nuclear Safety Institute in Russia, said though there had been concerns about nuclear plants, statistics show that only 28 people died in accidents at nuclear power plants in the last 60 years.
Rosatom in collaboration with Bangladesh's science and technology ministry organised the two-day seminar to shed light on the current trend of nuclear power, safety issues and other hazards in Bangladesh's context.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the seminar and gave an assurance that there would be no compromise over safety issues in the construction of the nuclear power plant.
“We will have to gain competence in all areas, including nuclear reactor management,” she said.
Yeafesh Osman, state minister for science and technology, and Alexander A Nikolaev, ambassador of Russia to Bangladesh, also spoke at the inaugural ceremony.
Bangladesh has signed several deals under which Russia will provide both technical and financial support to set up a 1000MW nuclear power plant in Rooppur in Pabna.
Moscow is providing $500 million under a loan agreement for pre-construction works. The plant's construction is expected to begin in 2016 with a target for starting operation in 2021.