On Dec. 27 last year, a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp., or KEPCO, made headlines by winning a bid to build nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates, beating out competitors from the U.S., France and Japan.
A year later, Korea has begun work on the biggest project in its history in the Mideast country.
Groundwork for construction is now underway.
After sealing the contract, the power company created a post to handle the project as well as a task force. Twenty-nine member of the task force were dispatched to the UAE and a preliminary office was established at the construction site in July.
“The construction of the nuclear power plants is a massive project that will take almost 10 years,” KEPCO said. “Before starting full-fledged construction, we are preparing to build infrastructure such as electricity, telecommunications and roads.”
The four nuclear power plants to be build in Braka, located 270 kilometers wst of the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, will be completed between 2017 and 2020.
The state-run Korean utility company has finished a study of construction sites on land and sea and installation of fences surrounding the sites. Excavation work that marks the beginning of the construction will start in April 2012.
A thousand workers will be deployed next year and 12,000 workers will be used in both 2016 and 2017, when full-fledged construction work will be underway.
KEPCO affiliates, Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, Hyundai Construction & Engineering, and Samsung C&T will join the project.
In Korea, production of nuclear reactors, the key part of nuclear power plants, began in October.
Initially, obstacles were expected due to high temperatures in the Mideast country. Since the water to be used for cooling in the UAE is 7 degrees higher than that in Korea and the average temperature is also high, Korea has built big cooling devices.
On this, task force leader Lee Heung-joo, who is working at the construction site, said, “We have disadvantages including higher temperatures but also have advantages such as little rain. Though construction work stops at midday in summer due to the heat, we can perform additional work in the morning and evening due to the longer daylight time. So the construction period can be shortened.”
“In particular, the weather from November to February is similar to Korea’s in early summer. This is the optimal environment for construction.”
Temporary shelters and fences are being built for the construction in sandy Braka until early this year.
Korea’s profile in the UAE was raised after the consortium won the bid for the nuclear power plants. Lee said, “Since the conclusion of the contract, the UAE people’s perception of Korea here has completely changed,” adding, “Staff at an airport asked Koreans whether they came for the construction of the power plants.”
A combined 1,043 Korean workers, including employees of KEPCO, Korean construction companies and other workers residing in the UAE, are working on the nuclear plant project.
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