6 September 2015

Construction Start on UAE Barakah Unit 4

Construction Start on UAE Barakah Unit 4

Construction began on the fourth reactor at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 2 September 2015, with the start of the pouring of the basemat concrete. The four APR1400 reactors planned at Barakah, located in the western region of Abu Dhabi, about 50 kilometers west of Ruwais, are to be supplied by the Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO). Unit 1 is scheduled to start operations in 2017 and the remaining three reactors planned for operation by 2020.

There is little independent information available on progress at the Barakah building site. While steps have been taken to release information on the progress of construction through twice yearly reports from an International Advisory Board, it is noted that the level of detail “falls far short of what is customarily available to the public in new-build programs in other countries, particularly in the West.”

In a press statement, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Commission (ENEC) noted that “with the construction of four identical nuclear energy reactors now under way, Barakah surpasses nuclear construction sites in China, the USA, the UK, Russia and other countries to become the largest project with simultaneous construction of identical nuclear technology in the world”. The UAE has no prior experience operating a commercial or even a research reactor. A total of 18,000 workers are currently on the Barakah site.

The Emergency Preparedness Review Service team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) completed in March 2015 a review of the UAE’s emergency preparedness and response arrangements, which was generally favorable, but which was also described as mixed, with recommendations on measures being required on emergency planning, including consistency in public information disclosure and public protection in the event of a nuclear emergency.

As reported in WNISR2015, the cost of the four reactor project is reported to have risen significantly from the original US20 billion to about US32 billion and possibly US40 billion. The financing is made up of monies from the Export Import Bank of Korea, the US EXIM Bank, the Government of Abu Dhabi and commercial banks.