Egyptian nuclear regulator issues permit to build unit 1 of first nuclear plant in Egypt

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The Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) has issued a permit for the construction of unit 1 of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant (NPP) at El Dabaa, according to a release by the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom.  

Egypt and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement in 2015 under which Russia will help build and part-finance the first Egyptian NPP to be owned by the country’s Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA). 

The El Dabaa NPP, to be located on the country’s Mediterranean coast about 130 km northwest of the Egyptian capital, Cairo, will have four Russian-designed VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors of 1,200 MW capacity each, making Egypt the only country in the region to have a state-of-the-art Generation III+ reactor. 

“Today (June 29, 2022), we were granted the permit to build the first unit of the first Egyptian nuclear power plant. Today, we etched in gold Egypt joining the ranks of countries building nuclear power plants after over 70 years waiting for this dream to come true,” NPPA Board Chairman, Dr. Amged El-Wakeel, said in a statement. 

“Rosatom will build a reliable state-of-the-art NPP with reactors based on the Russian VVER-1200 design of the innovative Generation III+. It meets the world’s highest safety standards, and successfully operates in Russia. El-Dabaa NPP will be the first nuclear power plant of this generation on the African continent. It will further secure the country’s regional technological leadership,” said Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev. 

This permit, along with excavation works at the site, are the prerequisites for the start of the main stage of construction. Earlier this year, Rosatom had announced that preparatory work has started for the construction of the El Dabaa NPP.  

In April 2022, a delegation from Rosatom’s engineering division, ASE Group, led by the company President Alexander Lokshin, along with the NPPA Board Chairman, Dr. Amged El-Wakeel, visited the construction site of the El-Dabaa NPP. The delegation included senior officials, as well as the project teams of both ASE and the NPPA.   

According to Rosatom, the delegation visited the NPP construction site and inspected the preparation of the pits for power units 1 and 2, the facilities of the construction base, and the concrete-mix unit. The preparatory work on the site includes construction of infrastructure facilities and a docking facility which will receive large and heavy equipment. 

Although the Egyptian nuclear power program was started in 1954, and its first research reactor ETRR-1 was acquired from the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1958, it is only now that work has started on building the country’s first nuclear power plant. 

The El-Dabaa NPP is being constructed under a package of contracts which entered into force on December 11, 2017. As per the contract, Rosatom will not only construct the power plant but will also supply nuclear fuel for the whole life cycle of the NPP, as well as provide assistance to the Egyptian partners in the training of personnel and in support of operations and service during the first 10 years of its operation. Under a separate agreement, Rosatom will build a special storage and will supply containers for storing spent nuclear fuel, the statement said.