With a ceremony held today, Bangladesh started the construction of its first nuclear power plant at Rooppur. The pouring of the first nuclear safety-related concrete for the power plant made Bangladesh the third ‘newcomer’ country to start constructing its first nuclear power reactor in three decades – following the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and Belarus in 2013. The IAEA continues to provide extensive support to Bangladesh in developing its nuclear power infrastructure.
The construction works follow the receipt of a design and construction licence for the first unit of the plant, issued by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority on 4 November 2017. The two VVER type (AES-2006) pressurized water reactors are to be supplied by Atomstroyexport of Russia. Each with a 1200 MW(e) gross electricity generation capacity, the reactors are planned to be commissioned in 2023 and 2024, respectively.
The ceremony held today at Rooppur, some 140 km west of the capital Dhaka, featured leaders of the country and representatives of key organizations assisting Bangladesh in this major undertaking, such as the IAEA and Rosatom, Atomstroyexport’s parent company.
“We want to transform Bangladesh into a middle income country… and a developed one by 2041. I hope that the Rooppur Power Plant will play an important role in achieving this goal,” said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, at the ceremony. “Our government has given top priority to the issue of nuclear safety and radiological protection, while implementing the Rooppur project. We are strictly following IAEA safety standards and other relevant guidance as well as international good practices,” she added.
Attending the ceremony on behalf of the IAEA, Dohee Hahn, Director of the Division of Nuclear Power, highlighted that strong political commitment, as seen in Bangladesh, is crucial for the success of any new national nuclear power programme.
Over the past several years, the IAEA has provided significant assistance to Bangladesh in developing the necessary nuclear infrastructure, including the review of nuclear laws, preparation for adhering to international legal instruments, the development and review of regulations and the assessment of potential sites.
Several review missions, workshops, trainings and scientific visits have supported the country in building national capacity and nuclear knowledge required for such a complex and long term project, Hahn emphasized. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano had visited the Rooppur site in July 2017 to observe the progress achieved.
“The IAEA and other bodies, including those from experienced countries, can and do provide support, but the responsibility for safety will lie with the Government,” Hahn said. “The Agency stands ready to continue supporting Bangladesh in developing a safe, secure, peaceful and sustainable nuclear power programme.”
Several agreements signed between Bangladesh and the Russian Federation, including an intergovernmental one from 2011, foresee a turnkey project, including financing, construction, fuel supply, training and other services.
In 2011 and 2016, the IAEA carried out Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Missions (INIR) to review the status of nuclear power infrastructure development in Bangladesh. INIR is an international peer review of the comprehensive integrated infrastructure needed to introduce a national nuclear programme. The mission reviews the 19 nuclear power infrastructure issues of the IAEA’s “Milestones” approach, as identified in the publication Milestones in the Introduction of a National Nuclear Power Programme.
Based on the recommendations and suggestions of these missions, it developed an Integrated Work Plan envisaging continued support to Bangladesh, including peer reviews missions the fields of nuclear safety and security.