20 March 2021


Grid Connection of Chinese Reactor in Pakistan

WNISR, 20 March 2021

Construction site of the two Hualong One units at the Karachi site in Pakistan (Photo PAEC)

The 1100-MW Karachi-2 reactor, located on the Arabian Sea, Sindh province in southern Pakistan, reportedly was connected to the grid on 18 March 2021. The reactor, also called KANUPP-2, is a Hualong One or ACP-1000, supplied by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) on a turnkey basis. It will be operated by the Pakistan Atomic Energy Corporation, PAEC.

Karachi-3, which remains under construction, is also supplied by CNNC with the two reactors funded in part by a US$6.5 billion loan from China. The reactor design is derived mainly from the 900 MW reactors that China imported from France in the 1980s (Daya Bay) and 1990s (Ling Ao).

Construction of Karachi-2 began on 26 November 2013 despite unusually open and direct opposition from political leaders, local officials and independent scientists, in particular because of the untested nature of the technology.

Karachi-2 is only the second Hualong reactor to begin operation, the first one, Fuqing-5 in China, began operation on 27 November 2020. Particular concern relates 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. Incidentally, in Japan, on 18 March 2021, a district court ordered the shutdown of a nuclear reactor due to the lack of appropriate evacuation plans.

The site is next to the forty-year-old Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP). 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.