Friday, June 21, 2024

Conforming Milestone Document will mark first stage in building Rooppur plant

The director-general of International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, told The Independent that Bangladesh is at the starting block for building a robust infrastructure, based on the Milestone Document of the IAEA, crucial for establishing the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) in Pabna. “The IAEA has a Milestone Document that mandates the development of 19 items that Bangladesh will need to conform, to establish RNPP. IAEA will help Bangladesh to fulfil the requirements laid down in the document,” Yukiya Amano said.
Yukiya told this correspondent that Bangladesh needs huge electricity to run its economy, and, at the same time, it needs to go for prudent energy mix, as it does not have enough options for primary fuel.
“Yes, it is a fact that Bangladesh lacks in manpower, and funds crunch is also a big concern for the country. I can say that if Bangladesh wants to expedite the process to establish a nuclear project, the Milestone Document is the fastest way to overcome the problem,” Yukiya said.
The IAEA is assisting Bangladesh with help of Russian state-owned company, Rosatom, to establish its first nuclear power project, in Rooppur, he added.
“We can look ahead with confidence and optimism, to the future of nuclear power in the 21st Century and Bangladesh needs to start developing human resources, to run this project on its own,” the IAEA chief said.
Regarding the safety of nuclear power, Yukiya said that the use of nuclear power will continue to increase around the world, especially in fast-growing Asia and the Middle East. “Even a country like Qatar is now thinking about energy mix, so, we need to be more cautious about the safety and awareness of nuclear projects.”
He said that following the Fukushima disaster, effective steps have been taken to make nuclear power plants safer, all over the world.
It may be mentioned here that the member countries of IAEA want a stronger role of the global watchdog, in monitoring and establishment of nuclear power plants around the world.
The IAEA chief noted that nuclear power plants are very expensive to build, and, so far, Russia is keen to support Bangladesh, in terms of finance and technology, “but, if we calculate the cost of a nuclear power project, over a lifetime stretching between 30 to 50 years, then we can say that the option is definitely cheap,” he added.
Pointing his finger at the transparency of a nuclear project, he said that ensuring transparency in nuclear plants is a big challenge, but governments could gain public confidence by providing exact facts and figures.
“The 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster has changed a lot of things. But, as a result of the accident, safety standards at nuclear power plants, globally, have been enhanced,” said the IAEA director-general, at the inauguration ceremony of the ministerial meet on nuclear power, in St Petersburg.
He said that the St Petersburg conference observed that the use of fast reactors and closed fuel cycles are the most viable options in enhancing the sustainability of future nuclear systems.
“They (scientists) said that applications of the closed fuel cycles, including, by recycling uranium and using thorium, would further contribute to enhancing the sustainability of nuclear power, around the world,” the IAEA chief said.
According to the IAEA, the demand for nuclear power will continue to surge in the next two decades, in China, India and the Middle East. The oil-rich UAE and Saudi Arabia are also rolling out nuclear power projects, to ensure energy mix, for long-term sustainability.
Yukiya said that after the 1986 Chernobyl accident, global interest in nuclear power had waned. However, in case of the Fukushima incident, the interest did not actually wane, due to global response in dealing with the accident. It created deep public concern about the safety of such plants.
“This incident did not stop anything. South Africa, India, Russia and China are building new plants,” he noted.
According to the IAEA, a total of 434 nuclear power plants were in operation across the globe, while 69 new ones were under implementation, he added.
Another 80 to 90 plants would be built in the next two decades. Bangladesh, Jordan, Nigeria, Turkey and Algeria are the new entrants in the nuclear power sector. The countries are working on setting up their nuclear plants.

-With The Independent input

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