Construction under way at Rooppur 1

30 November 2017

Construction of Bangladesh's first nuclear power reactor, Rooppur 1, has officially begun with the pouring of the first concrete for the VVER-1200 reactor's basemat. Work on the Russian-designed and supplied plant was ceremonially started by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Concrete pouring at Rooppur 1 (Image: Rosatom)

First concrete is seen as the start of the main construction phase of a nuclear reactor. Two 1200 MWe units are to be built at Rooppur, which is on the eastern bank of the river Ganges at Rooppur, 160 km from Dhaka.

The VVER-1200 reactor design has already been implemented at Novovoronezh II in Russia, where the first unit of that design - an evolutionary development from the VVER-1000 - entered commercial operation in February. JSC AtomStroyExport (ASE), a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, is the general construction contractor.

Rosatom in February 2011 signed an agreement for two 1000 MWe-class reactors to be built at Rooppur for the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC). The initial contract for the project, worth $12.65 billion, was signed in December 2015. The Bangladesh Atomic Regulatory Authority issued the first site licence for the Rooppur plant in June 2016, allowing preliminary site works, including geological surveys, to begin. The regulator issued a design and construction licence to the BAEC last month, enabling the plant to move to the construction phase.

At the ceremony, Hasina expressed gratitude to the Russian government and people for their continuous support. Rosatom director general, Alexey Likhachov, said the facility's potential lifetime of over 100 years meant that the two countries were laying down "bases of friendship and cooperation" for present and future generations. "We will be constructing the plant in Bangladesh with the same care and attention as in Russia," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has provided assistance to Bangladesh in developing its 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. Dohee Hahn, director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Power, who attended the ceremony on behalf of the agency, said review missions, workshops, training and scientific visits had supported Bangladesh in building its national capacity and the nuclear knowledge required for the complex and long term project.

"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."

Hasina said she hoped the Rooppur power plant would play an important role in transforming Bangladesh into a middle-income country and, by 2041, a developed country.

"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 said.

Rosatom expects that 12,000 Russian specialists including designers, engineers, equipment makres, builders and power engineers, will be involved in the construction of the two Rooppur units. Rosatom's portfolio of overseas orders currently includes 34 reactors in 12 countries, the corporation said.

Rooppur 1 is scheduled to begin operation in 2023, with Rooppur 2 following in 2024.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News