Egyptian nuclear regulator OKs construction of the country’s third nuclear reactor

3rd April 2023 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) has issued the construction licence for the third reactor (Unit 3) of the country’s four-reactor nuclear power plant (NPP) at El Dabaa, “World Nuclear News” has reported. El Dabaa will be the country’s first NPP and is located on the Mediterranean coast, some 320 km northwest of Cairo. (Egypt currently operates one 22 MWt capacity research reactor.)

El Dabaa is being developed and will be operated by the country’s Nuclear Power Plant Authority (NPPA). Its reactors will be to the Russian State-owned nuclear energy group Rosatom’s VVER-1200 design, already in use at Russia’s Leningrad and Novovoronezh NPPs and at Belarus’ Ostrovets NPP.

Construction of Unit 3 is expected to start within the next few months. Construction of Unit 1 commenced last July, while that of Unit 2 started in November. The NPPA applied for the construction licences for both Unit 1 and Unit 2 in June 2021, while its applications for the same licences for both Unit 3 and Unit 4 were submitted in January last year.

The issuing of the construction licence for Unit 3 is “the culmination of a series of successful technical meetings between specialists of the NPPA and ENRRA to ensure that the licensing documents submitted meet all regulatory requirements and achieve the highest standards of nuclear safety, and to ensure the readiness of NPPA to start the construction process for the third nuclear unit,” stated the NPPA. “It is planned, that following the obtaining of the construction permit, to implement the technical works for the first concrete of the third nuclear unit during the second quarter of this year.”

“World Nuclear News” reported that the issuing of the licence also followed a thorough inspection of the El Dabaa site by the ENRRA, which took place from March 11 and March 17. This was focused on evaluating the NPPA’s readiness to start Unit 3’s construction. The construction of the NPP is being overseen by Rosatom subsidiary AtomStroyExport (ASE).

“Receipt of the licence for [the] construction of Unit 3 is the result of [a] huge effort for the preparation of the licence documentation,” highlighted ASE El Dabaa NPP construction project senior VP Alexander Korchagin. “This is another important step that brings us closer to the main period of construction of power unit 3.Thanks to the well-coordinated work of the owner (NPPA) and the contractor (ASE) we are successfully passing new stages in the construction of the first [NPP] in Egypt.”

The contract for El Dabaa NPP between the NPPA and Rosatom came into force in December 2017. Under it, Rosatom will also provide nuclear fuel for El Dabaa throughout the NPP’s entire lifecycle. It will also assist in the maintenance of the facility during the first decade of its operation and provide training to Egyptian personnel. Further, the Russian group will build a dedicated spent nuclear fuel storage facility and provide containers for the spent fuel.