Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the first ever nuclear power plant of Bangladesh, is going to be launched in 2023 which will create a great opportunity for massive employment as well as meet country’s growing demand of electricity, said Md Anwar Hossain, Secretary of Science and Technology Ministry.
To operate nuclear power plants like Rooppur, the government, on August 18 in 2015, has constituted a company-Nuclear Power Plant Company Bangladesh Limited (NPCBL) and Anwar Hossain, an engineer by profession, is its incumbent chairman.
In a recent interview with Aminur Rahman, editor of energynewsbd.com, he said in details how the country will play an important role in the economic sector, including the power one, after the construction of the much-hyped nuclear plant of Bangladesh.
energynewsbd.com: Bangladesh has already entered in the world’s ‘Nuclear Club’ through the first concrete molding of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Pabna, a northern district. Would you please tell us about the progress of the construction work of the plant?
Md Anwar Hossain: The work of the initial phase of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant has been completed. Bangladesh has become a member of the ‘Nuclear Club’ in the world through the inauguration ceremony of the first concrete cast of the plant by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on November 30, 2017.
Under the general contract signed between Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and Atomstroyexport, a contracting company of the Russian Federation, the construction work of long-term equipment manufacturing as well as construction work of various physical infrastructures is underway.
At the same time, other works of construction of the main power plant are in full swing. It is expected that a total of 2400 MW of electricity-1200 MW from the first unit of the power project by 2023 and the rest 1200 MW of electricity from second unit by 2024-will be added to the national grid.
energynewsbd.com: What are the challenges of constructing power plants and how to deal with it?
Md Anwar Hossain: There are a number of challenges in building power plants in the country. The majors of those include development of skilled human resources, construction of infrastructures, spent nuclear fuel management, proper analysis of nuclear safety issues through regulatory authority and increasing awareness about nuclear power amongst people.
Following the contractual arrangement with Atomstroyexport under the general contract, a total of 3,000 manpower, including engineers, scientists and employees of different categories, will be trained up to run this project properly.
Meanwhile, some 60 students from Bangladesh have been sent to Russia for attaining higher education in Nuclear Engineering at Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI). Of them, the first batch of the students will return to the country in September 2018 and join directly at Rooppur Nuclear Power Station. The higher education programme for the nuke plant will continue till 2022.
Moreover, 88 people have already received training on Foundation Course on Nuclear Energy in collaboration with India’s Nuclear Power Agency. In April this year, more 55 people were sent to India for taking the same training.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is implementing an Integrated Work Plan to create skilled manpower for managing and implementing the project. Rosatom, the State Corporation of the Russian Federation, is cooperating in this regard.
In addition to the Russian Federation, consultancy services are being taken from India, the nuclear experienced neighbouring country of Bangladesh.
A cooperation agreement has been signed between the Bangladesh and the Russian Federation on August 30, 2017 for the return of the spent nuclear fuel of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant to Russian Federation. And, under this agreement the spent nuclear fuel of Rooppur will be returned to the Russian Federation.
Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority has been formed to ensure nuclear security and it has already issued the siting and design and construction license of the first unit of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.
Besides, a separate agreement has been signed between Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority and the regulatory bodies of Russian Federation and the India for taking various types of consultancy services in this regard.
A three-year communication plan has been formulated to increase awareness amongst the public. Nuclear Information Centre has been set up at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre in Dhaka. View exchange meetings are being held regularly with local people in Rooppur. Journalists of print and electronic media are regularly visiting the progress of project implementation of Rooppur Power Plant, and visited similar centres in the Russian Federation to compare the project work. People are being informed about nuclear power through holding science fairs at the divisional, district and upazila levels and leaflets, booklets are being distributed among them throughout the country to make them aware of it.
Local public representatives visited the project area and they are also paying visit to such project centres located in the developed countries with a view to comparing the project work. They are also playing a vital role in increasing public awareness about nuclear power. Basically, the construction work of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant is going ahead with ensuring maximum security facing all kinds of challenges.
energynewsbd.com: How the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is helping Bangladesh build Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant?
Md Anwar Hossain: International Atomic Energy Agency has assisted in the development of human resources by taking training on related issues at home and abroad at different times. A three-year integrated work plan has been planned for creating skilled manpower. Through reviewing the overall activities of the project, the expert mission of the IAEA is regularly visiting the project area and is proving directions to the authorities concerned. Besides, the Rooppur authorities are taking assistance from the IAEA experts for various document review programmes.
energynewsbd.com: What steps have been taken to assure the people who are worried about the safety of the nuclear power plant?
Md Anwar Hossain: The highest priority has given for nuclear safety during the ongoing construction work of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant. This project is being implemented considering all domestic and international obligations and following international standards. In this case, the work of the project is being done with the highest importance of human resources development, ensuring safety of the reactor, preserving the balance of the environment, and related issues.
The reactor site has been selected by reviewing the flood history of the past 100 years. The under construction reactor will be able to tackle the earthquake of 8 to 9 Richter scales.
The Rooppur reactor has been designed considering the remedies and prevention issues that have emerged after the accident in Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
Moreover, formation 3+ reactors of VVER-1200 class of latest technology are being set up at Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant. There will be five levels of safety features available in this reactor so that radioactivity will not spread out in any way.
energynewsbd.com: Apart from Russia, the cooperation of India is being taken to build this power plant. Will any other country help this mega project?
Md Anwar Hossain: No cooperation of any other country except the Russian Federation and India is being taken to build this power plant.
energynewsbd.com: After the completion of the work of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, how much positive role will it play in the economy of Bangladesh?
Md Anwar Hossain: Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will be a base-load power plant which will be operated for 24 hours. It will be the power station at an affordable cost. After the launching of the plant, it will play an important role in meeting the country’s growing demand of electricity. As a result, factories and economic activities will be dynamic and indirectly, it will create opportunity for employing about 20,000 people. And finally, it will increase GDP growth.
The project will play an important role in implementing the SDG-7 titled “Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. Poverty will be reduced and the living standard of people will be improved. As the power plant is environment-friendly, it will also play an effective role in controlling the harmful effects of climate change, the burning issue of the world.
energynewsbd.com: The government has taken steps to build another nuclear power plant. In which place the plant will be set up and when it will be implemented.
Md Anwar Hossain: The government is seriously considering to construct another nuclear power plant in the southern part of the country for balanced development throughout the country. In the meantime, a project titled ‘Survey of potential place to build a nuclear power plant in southern part of Bangladesh’ has been adopted. The next course of action, in this regard, will be taken based on the report of the survey project.