WNISR, 24 March 2022
The 1100-MW Karachi-3 reactor, located on the Arabian Sea, Sindh province in southern Pakistan, was connected to the grid on 4 March 2022. The reactor, also called KANUPP-3, is a Hualong One or ACP-1000, supplied by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) on a turnkey basis. Constructon of Karachi-3 began on 31 May 2016. It will be operated by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Corporation (PAEC). The Hualong One reactor design is derived mainly from the 900 MW reactors that China imported from France in the 1980s (Daya Bay) and 1990s (Ling Ao).
Both Karachi-3 and Karachi-2, also a Hualong One connected to the grid on 18 March 2021, were both supplied by CNNC with funding in part by a US$6.5 billion loan from China.
Karachi-2 and -3 also called KANUPP-2 and -3 — Photo CNNC
Costs for both of these two reactors have been reported as being around US$10 billion. While very low if compared to costs reported from other newbuild projects, these have contributed to Pakistan’s major debt problem, which has in turn afflicted the country’s power sector.
The new reactors are next to the KANUPP-1 unit that was closed on 1 August 2021 after almost 50 years of operation.
Construction of both Hualong One reactors at Karachi was launched despite unusually open and direct opposition from political leaders, local officials and independent scientists, in particular because of the untested nature of the technology. Particular concern related to the nuclear plant proximity to the city of Karachi which in 2017 had a population of 14.7 million, with a total wider population of 20 million. Mass evacuation in case of a major accident would likely be impossible.
Recent seismic analysis from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS), and the Pacific Geoscience Centre, Natural Resources Canada suggested that the region is at risk from major earthquakes, specifically the Makran subduction zone, and with a potential to up to a magnitude of 9.2, comparable to the Fukushima 3/11 earthquake.