Abu Dhabi: An artificially constructed reef near the UAE’s nuclear energy project has reached its final stages of completion, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) announced on Wednesday.
The reef is located 3.8km from the shoreline of Barakah, home of the UAE’s peaceful nuclear energy programme, an Enec press release said.
The almost 6,700 square metre reef, roughly the size of a football field, was constructed using recycled moulded concrete core-locs originally used in the assembly of Barakah’s coastal breakwater. Almost 1,800 of the large concrete units were carefully positioned on the ocean floor using a GPS-aided crane to create the underwater reef structure.
The lattice formation of the reef is designed to replicate a natural coral reef, and works to stimulate the local ecosystem by improving the existing seabed habitat, providing additional shelter for marine life, and encouraging biodiversity. The enhanced habitat is expected to attract a range of marine species including algae, invertebrates such as barnacles, corals, and oysters, and a variety of small and large fish.
Enec has also rolled out a number of other sustainability initiatives in recent months, including an intensive water conservation campaign which has seen the installation of water-efficient faucets at the plant, the development of an innovative car washing facility that recycles more than 80 per cent of the water it uses, and the application of recycling methods to reuse water from the project for uses such as irrigation. Collectively, these efforts have helped reduce Barakah’s water consumption by up to almost 100,000 gallons per day — the equivalent of more than 55 Olympic-sized swimming pools over the course of a year.
Mohammad Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of Enec, commented on the development of the project: “The completion of the Barakah Artificial Reef Project is an excellent example of the positive measures we are implementing in line with our Environment and Sustainability Charter.”
The project has been developed in partnership with the National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC), and in line with guidance from Enec’s environmental regulator, the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD).
Enec has outlined its commitment to operating in an environmentally-conscious manner in its Barakah Environment and Sustainability Charter- an agreement co-signed by Enec and its prime contractor, Kepco. The charter sets out a series of obligations for both parties to ensure that environmental protection, habitat preservation, water and energy conservation, and sustainable waste management best-practices are consistently applied at site.
By 2020, Enec’s four nuclear energy reactors will provide approximately 25 per cent of the UAE’s electricity needs, saving up to 12 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Unit one is already more than 60 per cent complete and due to connect to the grid in 2017, with one additional unit coming online each year up to 2020.