The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has filed the construction license application for Braka Units 1 and 2 with the United Arab Emirates Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR).
The submittal follows a year-long process in which ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), the Prime Contractor for ENEC’s program, documented the safety case for the UAE’s first nuclear power plants, as well as the proposed site, Braka, in the Western Region of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The Construction License Application (CLA) is based substantially on the safety analysis done for, and licenses granted by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) to KEPCO for Shin Kori 3&4 units in Korea, the “reference plant” for the UAE program. The CLA documents were reviewed, verified and augmented by ENEC to meet FANR requirements. ENEC utilized outside consulting firms as part of its independent safety verification of the license application. Comments and analysis developed by ENEC were incorporated into the CLA prior to the submittal.
The “reference plant” concept is a fundamental part of ENEC’s procurement, construction and operations strategy. It ensures that KEPCO will construct a plant that is essentially the same as the “reference plant,” but supplemented with changes required to adapt to the UAE climatic conditions and any specific requirements of FANR. This “reference plant” philosophy enabled ENEC to prepare and submit the CLA one year following the awarding of the contract to KEPCO.
The submittal starts FANR’s review process, which ENEC expects will involve requests for additional information, and several meetings, which is typical for a nuclear construction license application to a regulator.
Totaling about 9,000 pages, the Construction License Application includes:
- The Preliminary Safety Analysis Report (PSAR), which includes a description of the plant design and a summary of the associated safety analyses.
- A Probabilistic Risk Assessment report, which demonstrates the low probability of a severe accident and provides assurance of public health and safety.
- An Independent Safety Verification Report, which meets the FANR requirement for an independent review of the PSAR.
- A preliminary Safeguards Plan, which provides information on how nuclear fuel and nuclear-related components will be kept secure, and in line with UAE safeguards commitments.
- The ENEC Quality Assurance Manual for design and construction, which details the processes ENEC uses to ensure the highest quality work in the program.
- The Physical Protection Plan, which lays out how ENEC will secure the facilities during construction.
The CLA takes into consideration necessary design changes to the Shin Kori plant, including those impacted by the high air temperatures in the Western Region; the higher temperature of the Arabian Gulf water as compared to the sea water in Korea; the potential for sandstorms at Braka; and the change in electric grid frequencies from 60 hertz, which is used in Korea, to 50 hertz, which is used in the UAE.
Concurrent with submittal of the construction License Application ENEC will submit the Nuclear Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) for the construction of the Nuclear Power Plant Structures related to Nuclear Safety. Approval of the Nuclear EIA by EAD will be required, in addition to the FANR Construction License Application, prior to ENEC beginning construction of the Nuclear Safety Related structures.
Earlier this year ENEC received from FANR a Site Preparation License, which, along with a Construction Environmental Permit granted by the EAD, allowed ENEC to conduct works related to the construction of features of the overall facility but not part of the civil Nuclear Power Plant, and works for Nuclear Power Plant structures not related to Nuclear Safety.
ENEC also announced in December that a review board set up in July has completed its first set of two meetings, and plans to meet three times this year.
The Nuclear Safety Review Board is made up of former USNRC chairman Dale Klein, former executive managing director of Korea's Daewoo Engineering Company Chang Sun Kang, former Bectel senior vice president E. James Reinsch, former STP NOC chief executive officer James Sheppard and former Japan Nuclear Safety Commission deputy chair Kunihisa Soda.
ENEC said that it established the NSRB in July to provide a review of the safety and effectiveness of the construction, startup and operations of the ENEC program, with a core emphasis on nuclear safety. The board reports to ENEC’s chief executive officer, Mohamed Al Hammadi.
“Our goal is to help ensure the success of the UAE nuclear project,” Dale Klein said. “The Board is focused on helping make the project a success by applying our experience and providing advice from a broad, international and independent perspective.”
The NSRB also contributed to the review of ENEC’s Construction Licenses Application for the proposed Braka Nuclear Power Plants.
The NSRB has established four sub-committees that will focus its work with ENEC on the following areas:
-Operations, Safety and Training
-Regulatory, Security and Oversight
-Construction and Project Management
-Engineering and Design
Following its initial meetings, the NSRB recommended that ENEC continue to work on strengthening its maturing relationship with KEPCO, the Prime Contractor for the UAE’s nuclear power program, given the long-term nature of the partnership the two parties have embarked upon. The Board also advised that ENEC work to further develop realistic succession plans for ENEC employees.
The UAE regulator FANR has announced two recent contracts with technical support companies to support the licence review.
Under the agreements, FANR's TSOs will provide engineering and technical services to support FANR’s review of its first construction licence application for a nuclear power plant in the UAE. They will work on areas such as management and quality assurance, design, systems and safety analysis.
Dr William Travers, FANR’s Director General, signed the contracts in Florida, US, with representatives of two consortia:
-BNES-ISL (made up of Baynuna Nuclear Energy Services and Information Systems Laboratories)
-NT (made up of NUMARK Associates Inc, AMEC NSS Ltd, TUV NORD and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland).
A similar agreement has already been signed with RISKAUDIT-IRSN/GRS.
“We are already working with Lightbridge, BNES-ISL and RISKAUDIT to gather worldwide experience and expertise in our regulatory organisation,” Dr Travers said upon signing the agreements.