The National, an English-language daily newspaper published in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), reported that concerns over the UAE’s nuclear energy programme grew owing to a delay in the operation of Shin-Kori reactors.
“The first and most problematic challenge for Barakah is the fact that its prime contractor, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), has run into a series of difficulties at Shin-Kori, 450 kilometres south-east of Seoul, where it is developing the prototype project for its APR-1400 reactor, the same model it is building at Barakah,” The National said in its article titled ‘UAE nuclear project enters critical phase.’
Hinting that there were high expectations for the UAE’s nuclear energy programme, the article quoted Marta Ferrari (a nuclear engineer in the Nuclear Power Infrastructure Group of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna), as saying: “The UAE nuclear programme is very special as it is the first newcomer to start building in 27 years.”
“Barakah is reliant on Shin Kori reactors 3&4 for its operating procedures template, a crucial connection that is reflected in the fact that Kepco faces financial penalties under its Barakah contract if it misses milestones on the Shin Kori programme,” the article pointed out.
The article seems to have expressed the UAE’s disappointment over a delay in the operation of the Shin-Kori reactor 3 amid various corruption scandals. In response to the UAE’s demand that S. Korea should verify the safety of Korean nuclear reactors first, KEPCO made an agreement with the UAE to start the commercial operation of Shin Kori-3 within September.
“The UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) is coming under budget pressure at a time when it should be adding staff, according to a number of senior nuclear executives. FANR executives said privately that budget cuts would slow down the programme at some point,” the article mentioned.
“The delay in the operation of the Shin-Kori reactors would detract from the credibility of Korean nuclear reactors. Additional workforce demands can be made when there is a delay in the UAE’s nuclear energy programme or a need to secure safety,” said a nuclear power industry insider.
“The already complex final stage of any new nuclear programme is complicated further by the fact that the UAE uniquely blends systems and senior staff from a range of countries, and has other unique features that have to be accommodated,” the article added.
“The main threat to keeping Barakah on schedule is the fact that a combination of fraud and faulty parts has meant that KEPCO’s Shin-Kori 3&4 have been delayed by more than a year, and a start-up date remains uncertain,” the article unequivocally criticized.