The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the UAE’s independent nuclear regulator, has today issued the Operating License for Unit 2 of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant to Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation’s (ENEC) subsidiary, responsible for the operation of the nuclear power plant located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi.
The Operating License, with an estimated duration of 60 years, authorises Nawah to commission and operate the Unit 2 of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.
The decision to issue the Operating License is a culmination of efforts made by FANR since it received the Operating License Application from ENEC, on behalf of Nawah, in 2015 for Units 1 and 2. FANR followed a systematic review process that included a thorough assessment of the application documentation, conducting robust regulatory oversight and inspections.
The assessment included reviewing the plant’s layout design and the analysis of the site’s location in terms of geography and demography. The assessment also included the reactor design, cooling systems, security arrangements, emergency preparedness, radioactive waste management and other technical aspects. FANR also assessed Nawah’s organisational and manpower readiness with all the required processes and procedures to ensure the safety and security of nuclear power plant.
FANR reviewed the 14,000 page Operating License Application for Units 1 & 2, conducted more than 220 inspections and requested approximately 59 additional pieces of information for Unit 2 on various matters related to reactor design, safety and other issues to ensure the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant’s complete compliance with all regulatory requirements.
"This is another historic moment for the UAE, being the first Arab country in the region to operate a nuclear power plant and culminating efforts of 13 years in building such a programme. This milestone was achieved due to the UAE’s vision and its leadership to build a peaceful nuclear energy programme to cater for the future needs of energy in the country," said Ambassador Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Deputy Chairman at FANR.
"The UAE Nuclear Energy Programme, including the nuclear law and regulations, conforms to the safety standards of the IAEA and the international best practices, where FANR has ensured its implementation during the construction of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant. The decision announced today follows many years of intensive work and collaboration with national and international stakeholders such as International Atomic Energy Agency, Republic of Korea and other international regulatory bodies," added Al Kaabi.
Following the issuance of the Operating License for Unit 2, Nawah will undertake a period of commissioning to prepare for the commercial operation where FANR will conduct around-the-clock inspections, using its resident inspectors located at the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in addition to deploying other inspectors, to ensure the Fuel Load and Power Accession processes are completed according to regulatory requirements.
"The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation played an indispensable role in regulating the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant since 2009 and especially after we received the Operating License Application for Unit 1 and Unit 2 in 2015. We conducted extensive reviews and robust inspections to ensure it fulfils our regulatory requirements and thus is ready to operate safely. FANR also prepared for the operations phase which include putting all arrangements in place to conduct regulatory oversight and necessary inspections to ensure protection of the community and environment when the unit 2 starts operating," said Sara Al Saadi, Director of Nuclear Security Department and Acting Director of Nuclear Safety Department at FANR.
To ensure implementing the highest international standards of nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation, the UAE received in the past decade 11 major peer review missions from the IAEA to review and assess various aspects from nuclear infrastructure, the legal and regulatory system, nuclear safety, nuclear security, emergency preparedness and non-proliferation. The reports from the missions of the IAEA are publicly available.
In February 2020, FANR issued the operating license for the Unit 1 of Barakah Nuclear Power Plant and maintained its regulatory oversight during the commissioning phase where it delivered 100 percent power. It is expected that the unit 1 will start the commercial operation during the first quarter of 2021.
One of the principles of the nuclear policy is transparency to which the Government of the United Arab Emirates has been committed to by adhering to international conventions and agreements such the IAEA’s Safeguard Agreement and its Additional Protocol and the Convention on Nuclear Safety and other instruments. Such commitments ensure the programme is designed for peaceful purposes and in line with national and international laws.
The UAE is currently building four units at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, and the project’s overall construction rate is 95 percent as follows: Unit 1: operational; Unit 2: completed; Unit 3: 94 percent; Unit 4: 88 percent.