Hungary’s Atomic Energy Agency (OAH – Országos Atomenergia Hivatal) has extended by a year, to October 2024, the permit allowing groundwork at the Paks II NPP construction site. Multiple press reports had attributed the delay to regulatory problems. Világgazdaság noted that the original permit for soil extraction was issued in October 2021, which would have allowed two years for the work to be completed. However, the paper said work could not start immediately, because extraction of soil, unlike the power supply and construction of offices, warehouses and assembly buildings, it part of the plant construction and therefore required a building permit. This was only issued in August 2022.

However, work then began around the clock, Danube Asphalt, which was in charge of the task, completing the first package of work by November. The deepening of the foundation pit will continue and the gap wall is already being built. The gap wall prevents groundwater from infiltrating the work pit, and maintains the level of groundwater under the nuclear power plant units. Bauer Magyarország Kft is responsible for its construction.

In response to the media coverage, OAH issued a statement responding to “misleading information in the press”. OAH said that after granting permits for soil preparation and crevice masonry, the investor could have started work immediately. “We emphasise that according to the legislation, obtaining a construction permit was not a condition for the start of soil preparation and slotted masonry work.”

Meanwhile, the Paks II project company says two machines, working in two shifts, day and night, are building the gap wall on the site. “The 2.5 km long and one metre thick cut-off wall is being constructed around the clock. The contractor is the Hungarian subsidiary of the German company Bauer. Two different technologies will be used to build the water barrier wall, which will enclose the area of the units in a curtain-like manner. First, the construction of the so-called self-solidifying slurry sections was started, of which more than 300 metres had been completed by the first days of August, and the reinforced concrete wall was also started. Two MC 76 duty-cycle crawler cranes from Bauer Hungary Ltd. are working on the site.”