Russia's ASE Group, the engineering subsidiary of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, on 8 July announced that the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority had issued a design and construction licence to the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) for unit 2 of the Rooppur nuclear plant.

The licence confirms safety requirements for the project have been met and gives permission to commence construction to begin. BAEC received an equivalent licence for Rooppur 1 in November 2017 and construction work started soon afterwards on that unit. ASE Group director general Valery Limarenko confirmed that first concrete for Rooppur 2 would be poured later in July.

Two 1200MWe VVER-1200 reactors will be built at Rooppur NPP with Russia’s Novovoronezh II as the reference plant.  

Russia and Bangladesh signed an inter-governmental agreement for Rooppur NPP in November 2011 and ASE Group was appointed the general contractor for the project in December 2015. At Roopur 1, work is underway on construction and reinforcement of the reactor building walls, and laying the foundation slab of the auxiliary reactor building, as well as soil stabilisation for the cooling tower. Rooppur 1 is expected to begin operation in 2023. 

India will  participate in the project. According to Alexander Khazin, senior vice president for International Project at ASE, the trilateral agreement signed by India, Russia and Bangladesh in March lays the basis for India’s co-operation in the project. "In particular, the parties plan to cooperate in personnel training, experience sharing and consulting support. Under the agreement, Indian companies will participate in construction and installation work, the supply of non-critical materials and equipment for the project," he said in a statement. He said Bangladesh had also signed two intergovernmental and inter-agency agreements with India, according to which India's Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership (GCNEP) will provide training and consulting services. "India will join the project as a subcontractor. Soon, Indian construction companies will take part in tenders for construction and installation work,” he noted.  

The IAEA has been supporting Bangladesh on its way to becoming the third ‘newcomer’ country to nuclear power in 30 years, following the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and Belarus in 2013. Bangladesh is among 30 countries that are considering, planning or introducing nuclear power using the IAEA Milestones Approach. This approach offers guidance on the introduction of nuclear power, including a legal and regulatory framework, a radioactive waste-management system and other physical infrastructure. Support has been delivered under the IAEA technical cooperation programme and is partially funded through the Peaceful Uses Initiative.

Photo: Construction of the Roopuur nuclear power plant in Bangladesh (Photo: ASE)