Russian experts are scheduled to launch pre-construction work for setting up a 2,000 mega watt (MW) nuclear power plant (NPP) at Rooppur in Pabna in the first week of the next month, power sector sources said Thursday.
Russian State Atomic Energy Commission (ROSATOM) will build, operate and provide fuel to the plant and take its waste back to Russia regularly. The cost of the proposed plant has been estimated at between $1.5 billion and $2.0 billion.
The work will start, as the Russian consultancy firm ATOMSTROYEXPORT will begin a series of tests under a $46 million contract, signed recently with the relevant authorities in Bangladesh.
Experts of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) will also conduct dozens of tests on their own.
The tests will include feasibility evaluation (FE), environment impact assessment (EIA), development and engineering survey, development of the comprehensive programme of engineering survey, anthropogenic conditions at the project area and site, and engineering and hydro-meteorological survey, etc, said an expert at BAEC.
Meanwhile, a team of ROSATOM experts, accompanied by BAEC experts, visited the plant site last week, said sources at the ministry of power, energy and mineral resources (MPEMR).
Bangladesh plans to produce 1,000 MW of electricity by June 2017 and another 1,000 MW by 2023 from the NPP.
The authorities concerned have also planned to increase power generation from the plant to 4,000 MW by 2030, said officials at the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB).
The BAEC, which will implement the NPP, will soon recruit some 1,700 staff including 500 scientists and engineers to monitor the plant.
The planned power plant is likely to generate electricity for the next 60 years from the day of commission. If everything goes unhindered, the life span of the plant is likely to be extended for another 20 years, experts at the BAEC said.
The BAEC experts said they would be working under the guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has approved the Rooppur NPP in June 2007 during the tenure of the army-backed interim government.
Meanwhile, the government has formed the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority to work closely with the ROSATOM and the IAEA, the officials said. According to the "self-evaluation report" submitted by Bangladesh to the IAEA in the middle of 2012, the two nuclear reactors of the plant will be of VVER-1000 design.
The VVER is the Russian version of the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR). This is a water-cooled and water-moderated reactor, reportedly devised in the late 1970s, said an expert.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, during her Moscow visit in May, underscored safety issues while discussing the NPP issue with President Vladimir Putin, he said.
She also got assurance from the Russian president to remove the spent-fuel in reactors and take the waste back to Russia safely.
Russia agreed to give Bangladesh $500,000 in loan for conducting research and developing technical abilities for the Rooppur plant early this year.
Subsequently the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) in April approved more than Tk 52.40 billion (some $670 million) for the first phase (1,000 MW) of the project.
One-fourth of the amount will be provided by the Bangladesh government and the rest by Russian credit, the officials added.