Egypt's first nuclear unit has core catcher installed

06 October 2023

Officials from Egypt's Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) and Russia's Rosatom have held a ceremony to mark the installation of the core catcher in the first unit at the El Dabaa nuclear power plant.

(Image: NPPA)

The 6.1-metre diameter core catcher is a key part of the passive safety system for the VVER-1200 reactor -  its function is that "in case of an emergency, it securely retains the fragments of the molten core and prevents the discharge beyond the reactor building containment".

It is the first large-scale nuclear power plant component to be installed at the four-unit construction site, about 320 kilometres north-west of Cairo. It took 14 months to manufacture in Russia, before being transported to Egypt in March.

NPPA Chairman Amged El-Wakeel officially gave the signal for the installation of the core catcher to begin and delivered a speech noting that the El Dabaa site had seen first concrete for the first unit in July 2022, for the second unit in November and the third unit in May, with first concrete for the fourth unit also expected this year.

He said the installation shows the efforts of the Egyptian and Russian sides to "meet the agreed schedule with a spirit of patience, dedication and hard work, overcoming all obstacles".

The plant will comprise four VVER-1200 units, like those already in operation at the Leningrad and Novovoronezh nuclear power plants in Russia, and the Ostrovets nuclear power plant in Belarus and is based on contracts that entered into force in December 2017.

The contracts stipulate that Rosatom will not only build the plant, but will also supply Russian nuclear fuel for its entire life cycle. They will also assist Egyptian partners in training personnel and plant maintenance for the first 10 years of its operation. Rosatom is also contracted to build a special storage facility and supply containers for storing used nuclear fuel.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News