Developments in 2022 in the nuclear field in Bangladesh  


January 25 is the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Russia. On this day 51 years ago, a newly independent Bangladesh established diplomatic ties with the erstwhile Soviet Union. The anniversary provides an occasion to take stock of the progress made during last year in the ambitious project of bilateral cooperation – Bangladesh’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) coming up at Rooppur located 160 km from the capital Dhaka.  

The Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom is the equipment supplier and technical consultant for the project to build two Generation III+ VVER-1200 reactor units of 1,200 MW capacity each at Rooppur located on the eastern bank of the river Padma. 

Welding operations on the primary coolant pipes of the first unit were completed in late February 2022. The welds — 28 pipe joints altogether — are subject to particularly strict requirements as the operational safety of the reactor depends heavily on the quality of welding. These are the pipes that serve to deliver hot water from the reactor to the steam generators. 

In late March, four steam headers were installed in their permanent position at unit 1. In early April, a stator of the turbine generator was put in place in the turbine hall. A turbine generator consists of two main parts, a rotor and a stator. A powerful accumulator of mechanical energy, the rotor rotates inside the stationary stator. This is the mechanism that converts mechanical energy into electric power. 

The main concrete works of the auxiliary reactor building for unit 1 were also completed by April, eight months ahead of schedule. The construction time of the auxiliary reactor building, which is a part of the nuclear island and is designed to house process instrumentation and control devices, was reduced by 241 days aided by the optimisation of logistic processes, while workplaces were timely supplied with the required resources like materials and tools. A Rosatom statement had said the average volume of concrete laid by specialists of the Rosatom subsidiary NIKIMT-Atomstroy was at the rate of 1,600 cubic meters per month, instead of the scheduled 1,000 cubic meters. 

In June, metal structures for the inner containment dome of the second unit were installed, taking its height to over 60 meters. The inner containment is one of the main components of an NPP’s safety system. It not only protects the reactor compartment, but also supports the polar crane used to service the nuclear reactor. 

Concreting of the fifth tier of the inner containment of the reactor building at unit 2 had been completed significantly ahead of schedule on December 24, 2021. Thus, 2022 saw the completion of construction of the cylindrical part of the inner containment that is one of the main components of the NPP reactor safety system which prevents release of radioactive substances into the environment. The dome of the power unit is installed on the inner containment.  

Also in June, an emergency core cooling system (ECCS) was installed in the reactor building of the second unit. Work began in August to concrete the internal containment dome of the reactor building. The installation of travelling cranes was completed in the turbine building in September. The cranes will be used for erection and installation operations during the construction phase, and for maintenance and repairs during the operation of the nuclear power plant. 

The installation of the reactor pressure vessel for the second unit was completed in October. The installation ceremony was attended by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev. In late October, steam generators were installed for unit 2. 

Immediately following the installation of the unit 2 reactor pressure vessel, a modern training centre, designed to train operating personnel of various categories, was inaugurated at the Rooppur NPP site. Bangladeshi citizens are undergoing training at the centre in specialised classes and production shops with the most up-to-date equipment. Rosatom has developed all the necessary teaching and learning programmes that will enable the Bangladeshi operator to independently provide training for its personnel.  

In late November, workers finished the installation of steel structures for the external containment dome at the reactor building of unit 1. The height of the containment reached 63.9 meters, according to Rosatom.  

The installation of the reactor pressure vessel for unit 1 was completed in November 2021. Both the power units will be equipped with active as well as passive safety systems, including molten core catchers. 

As the year moved towards its end, flushing of systems with the open reactor commenced at unit 1 in early December, as part of pre-commissioning operations. This is followed by a special post-installation cleaning. At this stage, chemically dematerialised water is supplied to the reactor vessel through the connection pipeline and primary circuit pipelines to remove impurities left after the installation of the equipment and the pipelines. 

“Flushing of active and passive safety systems with the open reactor is one of the most important pre-commissioning operations. This is the first of a whole series of inspections of equipment and process systems,” according to the Rooppur NPP Construction Project Director Alexey Deriy. 

The flushing helps to ensure that all the equipment has been installed correctly and is ready for operation. Besides, it checks the operability of pump units of the safety systems and normal operation systems. 

Among other developments during 2022, Bangladesh awarded a contract to Rosatom to supply gamma irradiation equipment for treating food and medical products, as well as for research purposes. The contract, awarded in May, entails replacing the equipment of the existing gamma irradiation facility in Bangladesh.   

Following an international open tender, the contract was won by the Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics and Automation, which is an arm of Rosatom subsidiary Rusatom Healthcare.  

The international tender, organised jointly by the Institute of Radiation and Polymer Technology and the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, also attracted bids by companies from China and Germany. Rosatom said the Rusatom Healthcare bid, supported by the Regional Center Rosatom South Asia, satisfied all the customer’s technical and commercial requirements.  

Rosatom will perform all the work, including design, manufacture, supply, installation supervision, testing, and commissioning of gamma installation equipment. Co-60 (cobalt-60) radioactive isotopes will be supplied by Rosatom subsidiary Isotope JSC. The result of the work will be an upgraded gamma installation with a nominal activity of 400 kCi (kilocurie).