Construction work of the country’s first nuclear power plant is going on in full swing in Bangladesh as well as in Russia in the midst of the coronavirus threat.
The main construction work of the power plant is continuing at Rooppur in Pabna district, while at the same time, essential machinery is being made in Russia.
Some of the machinery has already reached Bangladesh, some shipped and others are still in the manufacturing process.
The power plant is being implemented by a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosatom. It is a top priority project on the Bangladesh government’s agenda, all the way up to the Prime Minister’s Office. The project will host two units, each with the latest generation 3+ VVER 1200 reactor. Total capacity of the plant is estimated to be 2,400 MW.
Rosatom officials said manufacture of Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) for unit-1 of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant has recorded further development as the production of Core Barrel has been completed at the Volgodonsk Branch of AEM-technology in Russia.
Core Barrel is one of the three main elements of the RPV Internals. Core Barrel itself is 11 meters high and 63 tons in weight consisting of six Shells. At the upper part of the Core Barrel, there are 238 holes of 196 mm diameter and two holes of 300mm diameter. The holes are arranged in six rows along the perimeter of the Shell and intended for coolant exit.
There are also 1344 holes of different diameters at the bottom. They are intended for Supports' installation and protect the fuel assemblies from being injected with small mechanical particles.
The next important stage is the installation of the Grid and Support elements. After the Grid and Support elements are installed, the test assembly of Core Barrel with the Baffle and Protective Tube Unit will be carried out.
In parallel with the manufacture of reactor pressure vessels, the plant is manufacturing its internals, reactor cover and the upper unit as well. As of today, the vessel of the Reactor Core Barrel has been manufactured; baffles and a protective tube unit are at the final stage of manufacturing.
The reactor is a vertical cylindrical vessel with an elliptical bottom. The core and the internals are located inside the vessel. From above, the reactor is hermetically sealed by a cover with the drives of mechanisms and elements for regulating and protecting the reactor, and nozzles for passage of cables of the in-core monitoring sensors installed on it.
Atomenergomash is a single source supplier of all equipment of the reactor compartment of the Rooppur NPP and a significant part of the equipment for the turbine island. Different divisions of the company manufacture Reactors, Steam Generators, Pumping and Heat Exchange Equipment.
Architect Yeafech Osman, Minister of Science and Technology, told Bangladesh Post that the construction of the nuclear power plant is underway ensuring all necessary measures to prevent spread of corona infection at the site, following the Bangladesh Government and WHO guidelines. In addition to the use of different types of safety equipment, everyone is tested at least three times a day for body temperature and health checkup.
“It is an international project and also a matter of honor for us. We hope at least 1200MW unit of electricity from the first nuclear plant will be added to the national grid by 2023. The second with the same amount of power will be launched by 2024,” he added.
Project officials said most of the major projects in the country were halted due to Coronavirus. Due to the dependence on foreign manpower, some projects have been stopped. Foreigners associated with the embassy and various activities are returning to their respective countries.
However, the construction work of Rooppur Power Plant is going on in full-swing. The project concerned have taken initiatives to prevent the deadly virus and to prevent anyone from getting infected.
There will be two reactors with 8 steam turbines. The second reactor and five other steam turbines will reach in phases. By this time the first reactor would be installed. The first reactor with 3 steam turbines and its related equipment will reach Bangladesh by November, Rosatom officials said.
Alexey Likhachev, Director General of Russia's state atomic energy corporation-Rosatom, said “Ensuring nuclear safety and safeguarding the lives and health of both our employees and the general public has been our first and utmost priority for decades. Safety is Rosatom’s key value. We have always had contingency plans for any kind of emergency situations, including those related to the health of our employees.”
“At present, we have introduced additional measures at all of Russia’s nuclear power plants, including regular health check-ups of our personnel. We have arranged for as many employees as possible to work remotely and purchased personal protective equipment and hygiene-related products in bulk.
We are monitoring our employees’ health in close cooperation with local authorities across our areas of operation. We have developed a number of additional contingency plans for various scenarios of the coronavirus pandemic that may have an effect on the health of our NPP employees,” he continued.
Bangladesh government believes that once the nuke plant goes into operation, it will offer a window of opportunity, such as ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply to over 15 lakh families and jobs for a large number of people.