Barakah Nuclear Power Plant Image Credit: ENEC

Dubai: The firm in charge of the UAE’s first nuclear power plant has taken delivery of vital parts that will power the reactor.

On Saturday, the federal-owned Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) announced that it had received fuel assemblies — stacks of rods that contain radioactive, fissile material. These assemblies will power Unit 1, the first of four reactors at the plant. Unit 1 is currently 95 per cent complete.

Once all four reactors are online, the facility will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs, officials say. According to current plans, the plant will be fully up and running by 2020.

Made by Kepco NF, a South Korean firm, the new fuel assemblies were transported to the plant in highly protected rigid structures to guarantee their integrity.

The transportation did not require extraordinary measures of radiation protection, as new fuel assemblies only emit naturally safe levels of radiation.

To make the fuel assemblies for Unit 1, Enec collaborated with a series of international fuel suppliers.

The contracts first started in 2012 to provide a series of nuclear fuel services to cover Enec’s requirements for Barakah Units 1 to 4 for a 15-year period, starting this year.

In 2008, the government issued a document entitled UAE Policy on Nuclear Energy. This document states the country’s commitment to nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation.

It also guarantees security of supply, quality assurance of fuel-related materials and competitive commercial terms.

“As we move towards the operation of the first nuclear energy reactor in the UAE, the successful transportation of the first fuel assemblies to the Barakah plant is a major success,” said Mohammad Al Hammadi, Enec’s chief executive.

In line with regulations, all fuel assemblies arriving at the Barakah plant must be closely inspected by fuel experts. These inspections are done to ensure the structural integrity of each fuel assembly and to obtain confirmation and independent verification of the quality of the assemblies.

“We are glad to announce that all the received fuel assemblies have cleared quality inspections at site,” said Mohammad Abdullah Chookah, executive director for Fuel Procurement and Analysis.

“They are ready to be used to produce electricity for the nation, pending regulatory approval. We are glad to report that the fuel assemblies are securely stored within the Barakah plant.”

The plant is located in Abu Dhabi’s sparsely populated western region, around 53 kilometres from the town of Ruwais.