N-power plant deal signed with Russia

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=209049

N-power plant deal signed with Russia
Timeline, financing of the project not mentioned

State Minister for Science and ICT Yeafesh Osman and Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) Director General Sergey Kirienko exchange documents after signing a nuclear power deal for their respective governments at the PMO yesterday. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina witnessed the signing ceremony. PHOTO: PID

Staff Correspondent

The government yesterday struck an agreement with Russia to set up a two-unit nuclear power plant at Rooppur of Ishwardi upazila in Pabna, with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each.

The deal does not mention any timeline, though, for a commissioning of the country’s first ever nuclear power plant project, its costs and sources of finance.

Yeafesh Osman, minister of state for science and ICT, and Sergey V Kirienko, director general of State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) of Russia, penned the deal on behalf of their respective sides at the Prime Minister’s Office in the city.

Under the contract, Russia will extend all necessary support for setting up the plant.

The nuclear-capable country will supply nuclear fuel for the entire life of the plant, Kirienko told a joint press briefing at the auditorium of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Novo Theatre.

He said the project would be under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It will meet all IAEA requirements.

The first and foremost part of the deal is assurance of safety since the issue has been exercising people’s minds, particularly after the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in Japan in March, said the Russian expert.

The project will meet all the safety requirements as required by a modern nuclear power plant. The spent fuel will be taken back to Russia for reprocessing, maintained Kirienko, also a former Russian prime minister.

The spent fuel remains radioactive for a very long time and dumping this waste is a major environmental and health concern. Nuclear power nations have special contamination-free dumping facilities.

For the Rooppur plant, Rosatom will employ a new design model, with a new safety system being used in Russia and abroad, he stated. “It will have a double protection system which can survive the fall of a heavy aircraft on it. It will have basic cooling systems that can allow heat to be diverted.”

Besides, it will have a hydrogen reprocessing system that can help avoid any blast if hydrogen is produced.

“We still need to do some work at the site. Effective site testing contributes to safety. So we will conduct in-depth testing of the site,” said the Rosatom chief.

The Russian company will also conduct some surveys to be absolutely confident that the safety measures are reliable.

Kirienko also told newsmen that his country would assist Bangladesh in the financing of the project.

He urged the government to establish a public relations institution so that the media could have access to information related to the project. “It will be a transparent project and all information will be made online.”

As regards safety, the government has given priority to the public interest before signing the deal, said Yeafesh Osman.

He hoped the government would be able to start the construction of the project during its tenure in office.

The government has stepped up its efforts to diversify energy sources as the country struggles to meet the rising demands for electricity.

Earlier in May 2009, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding for setting up the power plant.

According to statistics from the Power Development Board, only half of the country’s 15 crore population have access to electricity. It produces on an average 5,000 MW of electricity a day, with a deficit of about 1,000 MW.

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