Bangladesh enters global nuclear club, construction of Rooppur N-Plant begins

Bangladesh on Thursday became the 32nd country in the world and 3rd in South Asia to harness the power of atom. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, called the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) “realization of another dream” as the ‘first concrete’ was poured to the foundation slab of Unit 1 of the plant at Iswardi of Pabna district.

“With the pouring of first concrete of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant begins the realization of another dream. We enter the nuclear world, which is a matter of great pride and honor for us as a nation,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said after the ceremony. It is indeed the realization of a dream that was conceived in 1960s. “First concrete” marks the start of the main construction phase of the Rooppur NPP.

The units at the nuclear plant at Rooppur will be built with post-Fukushima safety design and seek to dispel the concern that the Tsunami accident in Japan has evoked in the world community. ““The plant is being built with the help of Russia using so far the most modern technology. To ensure the safety we are following the guideline of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” the Prime Minister added.

The RNPP will have two VVER-1200 nuclear reactors – the flagship product of Russian state-owned nuclear giant Rosatom. They have been the latest version of the reactors built in Iran, India and China. The VVER-1200 have improved features leading to better performance and a range of additional safety systems that prevent radioactive substances from getting out of hermetically sealed containment in cases of emergency. Also, it has a 20 per cent higher power capacity than VVER-1000.

In her address Bangladesh Prime Minister said that the plant will be important for economic growth of the country. “Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant will play a significant role in economic development and implementation of Vision 2041,” Hasina said.

The ceremony was attended by Director General of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation Alexey Likhachev, Minister for Science and Technology of Bangladesh Yeafesh Osman and President of ASE Group of Companies Valery Limarenko.

Russian design of VVER-1200 reactors is an evolutionary Generation 3+ design with an extended 60-year service life, high capacity utilisation and an 18-month refuelling cycle. “Today we are not only beginning construction of the facility with life-cycle not less than 100 years, but at the same time further cementing foundation of friendship and cooperation for us and our children and grandchildren,” Rosatom’s Director General Likhachev said in his welcome speech.

“I am sure that nuclear power development will have positive impact on economy of Bangladesh and give impetus to the development of industry, science and technology along with improving of living standards in the country,” he added. Currently more than 2,200 employees, including 450 Russian specialists, work at the site. During the main construction period total number of employees at the site will reach 12,500 and this will include 2,500 specialists from Russia. Commissioning of Unit 1 of the Rooppur NPP is scheduled for year 2023 and Unit 2 is scheduled for 2024. The total capacity of the power plant will be 2400 MW.

On the occasion Rosatom said that the Rooppur NPP project is implemented within the framework of “in-depth defence concept”. In it environmental protection is a concept of “multi-layer protection” and “mitigation of hypothetical man-made accidents and human factor consequences”.

The power plant is being constructed under a contract between Bangladesh and Rosatom. Russia is not only providing construction assistance but will also be taking back the used fuel. Each of the units of the plant is expected to cost $1.5 to $2 billion. Out of this, Bangladesh will be bearing only 10 per cent of the cost, while Russia provides the rest as loan.