Regulator issues two licences to build UAE nuclear plant

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation issues two licences to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation as the UAE continues its plans to harness atomic energy.

The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has issued two licences to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) as the UAE continued its plans to harness atomic energy, it was announced today. The FANR, the UAE's independent regulator for the nuclear sector, issued licences titled: "Licence for Preparation of a Site for the Construction of a Nuclear Facility" and "Limited Licence for the Construction of a Nuclear Facility". The Government last year resolved to become the first Arab nation to pursue a nuclear energy programme and ENEC evaluated 10 possible sites, but settled on Braka, 300km west of the capital, for the first four reactors.

The Site Preparation Licence provides FANR's authorisation to ENEC to conduct site preparation activities at the Baraka site, such as the installation of site infrastructures, and construction of parts of the facility not related to nuclear safety. ENEC also needs to obtain a separate authorisation from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi to begin this work, according to the press release. The Limited Construction Licence authorises ENEC to manufacture and assemble structures, systems and components, such as reactor pressure vessels, steam generators, coolant pumps and other components important to the safety of the nuclear power plant.

Dr William Travers, FANR's director general, was quoted in the press release as saying: "Although these licences are necessary to allow ENEC to proceed with early site preparation activities and with the manufacture of long-lead components, it does not mean that FANR has approved the Baraka site. Rather FANR's assessment of the acceptability of the site will take place when ENEC submits its application to construct the nuclear power plant later this year". ENEC said Braka because of its remote coastal location, stable geology and proximity to the electricity grid as well as the limited impact the reactors would have on the surrounding environment. A South Korean consortium was chosen to build the first four plants at a cost of US$20 billion (Dh73bn) and ENEC expects to begin building the first plant by late 2012.