Russia to take back nuke waste, to assist Bangladesh post-warranty period


Russia will take back the nuclear waste to be produced during the operation of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP). The Bangladesh government is set to revise a previously signed agreement with Russia on the management and maintenance of the RNPP with such a provision. The amended agreement will also have directions on taking Russian assistance after the full lifetime of the RNPP.

The Bangladesh cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has already approved the draft of the revised agreement.

Once this revised the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) is signed with the Russian counterparts, Bangladesh will be able to take Russian assistance in many more sectors, experts said.

The RNPP will be operated and maintained by the Nuclear Power Company Bangladesh Ltd (NPCBL) and the recruitment of human resources is currently underway. Under the existing IGA with the Russian Federation, the already appointed human resources are being trained by Russian experts.

Bangladesh Cabinet Secretary Khandakar Anwarul Islam said that with the country having no prior experience in operating and managing nuclear waste, Russia will take back the nuclear waste and dispose them outside Bangladesh. NPCBL will take over the control of the RNPP once the installation is completed, he added.

The secretary also explained the IGA amendment saying that the previous agreement had a provision stating that Russia will take back the nuclear waste. The clause, however, was not clear enough in the previous version of the agreement, necessitating the amendment, he added.

A national committee was formed in 2010 to install the RNPP in the shortest possible time. In the following year, Bangladesh and Russia signed an IGA on 2nd November.

Bangladesh Ministry of Science and Technology Deputy Secretary Suraya Akter Jahan told Nuclear Asia that the IGA had not clearly covered the situation post the expiry of the RNPP’s warranty period.

“Now we’ll be able to seek assistance for the smooth operation of the power plant from Russia even after the warranty period is over,” Jahan said.

Asked about the duration of Russian assistance in providing ‘operational service’, the deputy secretary said that it has not been defined. ‘Operational service’ will be available as long as the power plant is working, she added. The RNPP is expected to operate for a time span of 60 years and it is capable of undergoing an upgradation which will extend its life for another 40 years.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the construction of the RNPP in October 2013. The first unit of the RNPP is expected to begin operation from 2023. The reactors, turbines and other major components of the nuclear plant are being made in Russia.