Training underway of UAE reactor operators

29 May 2012

A group of students from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has completed the first stage of training to become qualified operators for the country's new fleet of nuclear power reactors.

The training is part of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation's (Enec's) program to prepare the group to attain licences as senior reactor operators and was delivered by Enec's training partner, Westinghouse.

UAE reactor operators (Enec)
UAE's future reactor operators undergo training by Westinghouse (Image: Enec)

Westinghouse's senior reactor operator training program provides operational knowledge and skills on a simulated pressurized water reactor. The intensive 17-week program is divided into three parts: an online component; classroom instruction; and training in a simulator that recreates various operational situations.

According to Enec, while imparting knowledge of nuclear fundamentals, plant systems and integrated plant operations, the training course plays a key role in the development of a nuclear safety culture, including human performance fundamentals, control room supervisory skills, teamwork and communication.

Enec's deputy chief nuclear officer Ahmed Al Mazrouei said, "Highly knowledgeable, safety-conscious and skilled reactor operators are essential to the safe and reliable operation of the UAE's first nuclear energy facility."

Equal opportunities

Amani Al Hosani, a 26-year-old mother of two, is set to become the UAE's first female nuclear scientist when she completes her master's degree at Khalifa University in August, The National newspaper reported.

Once she graduates, Amani hopes to work in the safety department of the Braka nuclear power plant. "I want to be a nuclear engineer in the simulation field where I can simulate the safety scenarios to see how I can enhance the safety of our power plants," she said.

"You do not have to be a superwoman to be a mother and nuclear scientist," she said. "It is a job and all you need is to love science and be passionate about it."

David Helling, senior training advisor at Westinghouse, commented: "I believe that we are working with an exceptional group of young men and women. They have worked extremely hard, they are excited about what they are doing, and I believe that they truly understand the importance of their work to the future of nuclear energy in their country."

Azzah Al Sharhan, Enec's director of human resources, noted, "Emirati students want to play a role in the development of their nation. This desire to make a difference is what drove people to join the oil and gas industries in the 1960s as pioneers of a new sector. Today's generation of energy pioneers are turning to nuclear."

Enec expects to require more than 2000 workers by 2020, with a target of 60% being Emiratis. The company currently employs more than 400 people, 60% of whom are from the UAE. More than 170 Emirati students are currently sponsored under Enec's scholarship programs.

In a $20 billion deal announced in December 2009, Enec selected a Korean consortium led by Korea Electric Power Company (Kepco) to build four APR-1400 reactors at Braka, close to the border with Saudi Arabia, the first of which is scheduled to come online in 2017. Further reactors could be ordered as electricity demand grows from some 16 GWe currently to an expected 40 GWe by 2020.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News