UAE’s nuclear regulator certifies first group of Emirati reactor operators

Construction of the four units of the power plant is more than 93 per cent complete



The UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has officially certified the first group of 15 Emirati senior reactor operators and reactor operators at Nawah Energy Company, it was announced on Monday.

Nawah is the operations and maintenance subsidiary of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), which is developing four identical nuclear energy units in Abu Dhabi – the first nuclear power plant in the region.

The plant is anticipated to begin operations by 2020.

The certification is part of complying with FANR’s regulation that dictates requirements for the training and qualification of reactor operators and ensures their competence to operate the nuclear energy plant.

It is also a key requirement for the future receipt of the operating licence, a statement said.

A reactor operator is responsible for operating and managing the main control room of a nuclear energy plant during regular operations and emergencies including starting up a nuclear reactor, shutting down a nuclear reactor, and monitoring reactor parameters.

The senior reactor operators manage the control room and supervise the staff to ensure adherence to nuclear safety in order to protect the health and safety of the public and optimise energy generation for the UAE grid.

The first group of Emirati operators took part in a three-year training programme developed by ENEC and Nawah, according to the regulations set out by FANR. They trained in South Korea, the US, South Africa, and the UAE.

FANR verified and inspected the training programme, from curriculum content through to training implementation and exam administration to ensure that it met regulatory requirements.

After obtaining the certification, FANR will verify Nawah’s refresher training programme every two years, which will include provisions for periodic confirmation of an operator’s competency.

Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO, ENEC, said: “The UAE’s nuclear energy programme is creating new, high value job opportunities that will play a significant role in diversifying the UAE’s economy and supporting sustainable economic development for decades to come.”

Construction of the four units of the power plant – located at Barakah, in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi – is more than 93 per cent complete as of the March-end.

Unit 4 is more than 82 per cent complete, Unit 3 is more than 91 per cent ready and Unit 2 is over 95 per cent complete, the statement said.

Construction of the first unit is complete and it is currently undergoing commissioning and testing, prior to receipt of the operating licence from FANR.

The regulator is in the “final stages” of reviewing the operating licence application for the unit, in preparation for the loading of the first nuclear assemblies, the statement added.

Read: UAE regulator in final stages of issuing licence for nuclear plant