Bangladesh begins feasibility studies for second nuclear power plant

With the construction of its maiden Nuclear Power Plant at Rooppur on track, the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) has begun feasibility studies for its second nuclear power plant with Gangamati, Patuakhali in the south-central Bangladesh.

Gangamati is near the Kuakata beach and has been prioritized over three other proposed sites Mazher Char in Barguna, Boyar Char in Noakhali and Muhurir Char in Feni. The sites are located close to the Sunderbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.

The New Age Bangladesh quoted the BAEC officials in its report titled “Feasibility study for 2nd nuclear nuclear power plant begins”. It says: “Picturesque Gangamati, close to Kuakata beach, was taken for the feasibility study dropping four sites adjacent to the periphery of the world’s largest mangrove forest to avert criticism as protests continued in home and abroad against the construction of coal-fired power plant at Rampal.”

The prioritization of Gangamati over other three sites is in congruence with the government’s plan to develop Patuakhali as a “modern coastal belt” by establishing a deep sea port and a naval base there. Access to sea port will help in transportation of heavy equipment should the government decides to import it for the construction of the second nuclear power plant.

Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Mahbubul Hoq was quoted in the report saying that the feasibility study was being conducted to select the site for the second nuclear power plant as per a directive given by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2014.

The Commission’s Chairman said: “Gangamati was getting priority because of its location and other features like availability of water.” The officials will also study the other sites before final selection of the site by 2019 with the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority.

The BAEC has invited Japan Atomic Energy Agency to explore the feasibility of building the 2000 MW nuclear power plant in the southern Bangladesh. “China’s Dongfang Electric Corporation has expressed interest in building the second power plant,” the reported quoted the BAEC officials.

Selection of a suitable site is imperative for the construction of the nuclear power plant and its operation thereafter. Wrong selection of site would entail upgrade during construction and operation phases calling for shutdown periods and that in turn would mean increased costs. According to the International Atomic energy Agency, “among the primary works, site survey stage, site selection stage and site characterization stage are very important.”

The Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant, the first plant for Bangladesh is being made with the financial, technological and training support from Russia and India. Russia will be providing USD 11. 38 billion towards the construction of two units at the plant that will be powered by VVER-1200 nuclear reactors. The total project is estimated to cost around USD 12.65 billion. India will be training the Bangladesh personnel, who will eventually be operating the nuclear power plant.