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Successful startup of Unit 1 of Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant historic milestone in delivery of UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme, says FANR DG

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ABU DHABI, 1st August, 2020 (WAM) -- Christer Viktorsson, Director General of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, FANR, has commended the successful startup of Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant as the most historic, national and pioneering milestone to date in the delivery of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programme.

The delivery of this milestone while the world is under the impact of the corona virus, COVID-19, pandemic is a significant success to the UAE and those responsible for the project, said Viktorsson in an interview with Emirates News Agency, WAM.

He affirmed that FANR has been strictly committed to all mandatory regulatory and precautionary measures during this phase in the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant.

Viktorsson spoke about the FANR's role in the development of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant since receiving the operating licence application in 2015 for Unit 1 of Barakah Nuclear Power Plant, noting that FANR has continued its intensive regulatory oversights and inspections to ensure the Plant's compliance with all regulatory requirements up to the issuing of Operating License of Unit 1 in February that authorises the Nawah Energy Company, Nawah, to commission and operate the Barakah-1 plant.

''FANR's mission is to supervise the operations of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in order to ensure the protection of the public, the environment and the workers at the Plant. We do that by inspections and by giving permissions, so we gave in February 2020 a permission to Nawah Energy Company, Nawah, to start Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, because that has been finalised. We also gave them a permission to start loading nuclear fuel. When they loaded the nuclear fuel, we were there to supervise that everything was done according to instructions and the permission that we have given to Nawah,'' Viktorsson explained.

Since then, he adds, there were a number of tests prescribed by FANR to ensure that the systems, in particular the safety systems, work according to what we have approved and what is corresponding to highest international standards. ''So we have been there all the time with resident inspectors and by expert teams to supervise the tests period.'' ''FANR continues its operation and mandate completely during the COVID-19 pandemic. We worked from home and we had also resident inspectors at Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant all the time, because the work at the Plant continued during the pandemic although considering the precautionary measures prescribed by the government and FANR followed every directives that came from the government and made sure that we stay safe. So our role continued because our role is very essential in order to protect the public, the environment and the staff. We have continued to work to ensure safety, security and other operations.'' He added:''Now the time is ripe to go into what we call criticality and what we follow now is the second period of tests, when the power will be increased, dropped down and up again. For some months, we will continue with such tests in order to ensure that everything is safe before going to commercial production, when the electricity is delivered to our homes and the industry in the country.'' ''Our role will continue. Our role during the construction phase was to make sure that the power plant has been built safely according to best international practices and according to what we have approved.' ''Now a new phase will start when the power plant starts operation, producing electricity. We will be there to ensure this is done in a safe manner. The operators have certain instructions and procedures and we will be there to make sure they follow these procedures and to ensure the safety and security of everyone,'' he affirmed.

Speaking about human resources, he said ''For the time being, we have six inspectors permanently located at Barakah site, live there and work there 24/7 to make sure the work continues on time at the nuclear power plant. They supervise the day-to-day work all the time at the Nawah. In addition, we have some 50 experts in the headquarters in Abu Dhabi; they support the resident inspectors with expert advice. We also send some teams from the headquarters to go and check certain things on site in order to support resident inspectors.'' ''Resident inspectors are both Emiratis and foreigners. We are making sure that the skills and knowledge from foreign countries are transferred to Emirati inspectors and we have been very successful," the FANR head concluded.

WAM/Tariq alfaham/Hatem Mohamed