Abu Dhabi: Abdul Fatah Abdullah Al Marzouqi dreams of the UAE developing indigenous nuclear technology to further expand its nuclear industry and he wants to contribute towards that ambitious goal.
“When I visited South Korean nuclear facilities, this was my thought. If they could develop their own industry, why can’t we?” the 21-year-old intern at the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) told Gulf News in an interview on the occasion of the UAE’s 45th National Day.
“We have resources … we have the youth. If we work hard, we can develop our own technology, maybe in the next 20 years,” Al Marzouqi said.
Enec is responsible for delivering safe, clean, efficient and reliable nuclear energy to the UAE and specialises in the deployment, ownership and operation of peaceful nuclear energy plants in the country.
Enec has awarded Kepco, a Korean nuclear energy company, the prime contract to design, build and operate four 1,400MW (megawatt) nuclear power plants at Barakah. The construction of the plant commenced in 2012 and is progressing steadily, Unit 1 is now more than 90 per cent complete and overall construction of Units 1 to 4 is now more than 68 per cent complete. All four units will deliver safe, clean, reliable and efficient nuclear energy to the UAE grid.
“I am a part of this new journey and I am confident that one day my contribution will also be counted in its great success,” Al Marzouqi said while sharing his dreams along with his two colleagues. After completing the internship in a few months, they will take up a full-time job at Enec.
A six-week summer internship programme he attended in South Korea this year along with nine other Emirati colleagues ignited his ambition and dreams with regard to the nuclear industry.
The final year engineering students of Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR) doing an internship at Enec gained nuclear industry insight and experience in the form of on-the-job training. They visited and worked at some of Korea’s leading science research centres, industrial parks, and the most advanced nuclear energy plants as part of the programme.
Abdul Nasser Al Mulla, 21, is also confident of emulating the Korean success story in the nuclear industry in the UAE. He was impressed by the Koreans’ loyalty to work and their discipline. “They put extra hours to the work and are well-organised. That was an inspiration and we felt we could also do the same,” he said.
He would like to be a reactor operator who is responsible for the entire functioning of a reactor at a nuclear plant.
Abdullah Al Saadi, 20, believes that he has to play a major role in raising public awareness about the safety and reliability of the nuclear reactors in the UAE. “Despite assurances given by experts based on scientific proof, some people are still apprehensive of the safety of nuclear reactors.”
From his experience of briefly working at Korean nuclear reactors and Barakah nuclear plant, he can assure that the UAE is implementing the safest design. “Even we came to know that the UAE plants have three times the safety measures compared to the plants in Korea,” Al Saadi said.
Al Saadi, who, too, wants to be a reactor operator, said that at Barakah nuclear plant he was impressed by the efficiency of smart control rooms controlling the reactors, which can foresee any possible accidents and prevent them from happening.
He wants to do something to convey this reality to the people.
“It is interesting to see our senior colleagues are working hard at Barakah to make a dream come true. Some of them stay at work until midnight out of pure passion, which they have imparted to us as well. What they have achieved is in a small period of time.”
Al Marzouqi said he too noticed the strict safety measures followed by the staff at Barakah. “Safety is the priority there, if there is any doubt about their safety, they are not allowed to work.”
Al Mulla said the concept of “safety moment” being implemented at Barakah before starting any activity, including a meeting, is interesting. “It gives a brief reminder about all safety precautions including the indications to emergency exit, etc. They mention even minute and small things. You have to park your car in reverse, therefore you can quickly drive away in the event of any emergency,” he explained.
He said many layers of protective barriers in the plant would make radiation leakage impossible.
The project will immensely contribute to meeting growing energy demand in the UAE, Al Mulla said.
Al Marzouqi said the fact that plant will reduce 12 million tonnes of carbon emissions a year highlights its positive environmental impact.