A Rooppur milestone

PM to inaugurate installation of final reactor today
The second and final reactor of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Pabna will be installed today -- marking a major development in the project. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will inaugurate the installation through a video conference from the capital. Each of the reactors has the capacity to produce 1,200MW electricity. Photo: Collected

The second and final reactor of the Rooppur power plant will be installed today -- marking the most important development in the construction of the country's first nuclear power-source.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected launch the installation via a video conference.

The Tk 113,092 crore Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant has two units with a power generation capacity of 1,200MW each.

In the reactor, nuclear chain reactions are started and controlled at a steady rate to generate heat, which is used to make steam that powers electricity generators.

The life cycle of a reactor is 60 years with the possibility of further extension, according to Rosatom, the state atomic energy corporation of Russia.

Briefing reporters ahead of the second reactor installation, Yeafesh Osman, minister of science and technology, yesterday said the first unit of the plant will go into commercial operation in 2024 and the second unit the following year.

He said that the first unit should be ready to supply electricity to the national grid by December 2023.

Asked whether the national grid will be able to take the electricity generated from the plant, he said, "It not only depends on the power plant, it is [also] up to those who will buy electricity from it."

About whether buyers are ready to purchase electricity from the plant, he said, "I am not in a position to answer that … [However] They are trying to supply the electricity to the grid on time.

"If the grid is not ready for it, it will be a loss for the country."

He added that the fast pace of the construction surprised many countries in the world. "We had presented our progress in an international conference, where a couple of other countries building their own nuclear power plants with the support of Rosatom said that they have not seen much progress [in their own projects]. It [our progress] was possible due to the Bangladeshi workers in the plant."

Some of the countries even expressed their desire to hire Bangladeshi workers for their plants, he said, adding, "It only underscores how fast our workforce in the plant have developed skills. It means their wages will also rise in the international market."

Around 33,000 people have been working on the Rooppur power plant construction.

Of them, 5,500 are foreign workers, including 4,000 Russians, according to the project officials.

Whether the Ukraine-Russia war has had any impact on the construction, he said, "I can't say anything in that regard. However, I can say Bangladesh and Russia are both trying to ensure smoothness of construction."

He said that all teams of the International Atomic Energy Agency who visited the plant have expressed satisfaction with project progress.

Project Director Shawkot Akbar said physical work progress of the first unit is around 70 percent and while that of the second is 48.

Regarding the concern over radiation, he said people living 300 metres from the plant can be safe from radiation.

"A total of 23 automated radiation sensors would be established within a 20km radius of the plant, so that radiation levels could be monitored."

Amid the growing demand for electricity, the government moved to build the country's first nuclear power plant in Pabna and gave Rosatom the task of implementation.

The government listed this ambitious mega project as one of the top-10 priority projects or fast-track projects to be completed on time.

The foundation stone of the plant was laid in October 2013 and construction began, on 1,062 acres of land, in November 2017.

With the first nuclear power plant at Rooppur, Bangladesh will become the third Asian country -- after India and Pakistan -- to harness the power of the atoms.

Nuclear power plants built with VVER-1200 reactors are characterised by an unprecedented level of safety, which allows them to be classified as generation "3+".