Rooppur Power Plant: No worries over safety
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday assured the public that the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant was being constructed with full security measure taken, adding that the design of the plant has been developed in a way as to not succumb to any accident – nuclear or man-made.
"Atomic energy regulatory bodies from Russia and India are training our people and scientists, and this will continue....there's nothing to be afraid of," she said at a programme marking the first concrete pouring into the second unit of the country's first nuclear power plant.
The construction of the second unit was jointly inaugurated by the PM and Deputy Prime Minister of Russian Federation Yury Ivanovich Borisov.
Hasina further said that the government has given utmost importance to the security of the nuclear power plant, adding that there will be a separate security unit taking support from the army, police and other law enforcement agencies.
"We're ensuring the security through well thought out plans so that there could be no problem," she said.
The PM said that the government is strictly following the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safety standards and other relevant guidelines as well as internationally approved practices in building Rooppur.
"The plant is being made with G3+ Russian reactor which contains the latest technologies for safety measures and radiation control system. The highest measures are being taken to avoid any sort of risk for the people," she said, adding that Russia will take the responsibility for the nuclear waste management.
She also said construction of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is a long-cherished dream of Bangladesh that took form in 1961 in the then Pakistan era. At that time, some of the physical work, including land acquisition, was completed.
"But the Pakistan government abruptly stopped the work and shifted the plant to West Pakistan, displaying a step-motherly attitude to the East," she said.
After independence, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman undertook the initiative to construct the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, she recalled, adding that he had given orders to establish contact with nuclear power plant construction firms.
As per his directive, Hasina said, the work had begun, but with his brutal assassination on August 15, 1975, the entire process was abandoned.
"No government took up the initiative again until 1996 when the Awami League government revived the project. We included the nuclear power generation programme in our energy policy of 1996," she said.
With IAEA overlooking issues relating to nuclear energy, Hasina said they sought its cooperation commissioning the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant at that time. “A time-bound plan had also been worked out with the help of IAEA. But before completion of the entire process, our 1996-2001 tenure ended," she said.
The prime minister said the BNP-Jamaat government, after coming to power in 2001, stopped implementation of many people-centric projects, including the Rooppur plant.
"After assuming office again in 2009, we've restarted the project and the Russian Federation has come forward to help implement it. I convey my gratitude to the Russian government and its people for extending their support," Hasina said.
The construction of the first reactor unit began on November 30, last year. Currently, the work on construction of the walls, reinforcement of the reactor building, and the foundation of slab of the auxiliary reactor building are being done, while soil stabilisation work for the evaporative cooling tower and others have already commenced.
Two units -- 1,200 MWe VVER each -- are to be built at Rooppur under the Russian design giving priority to the highest safety measures. The VVER-1,200 reactor design has already been implemented at the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant II in Russia.
Unit-1 is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023, while the commissioning of the second unit is slated for 2024 to produce 2,400 megawatts of electricity from the two units.
The PM hoped that the nuke plant will play an important role in Bangladesh's journey towards becoming a middle-income country.
Chaired by Science and Technology Minister Architect Yafes Osman, the inauguration programme was addressed, among others, by the Deputy Prime Minister of Russian Federation Yury Ivanovich Borisov.