El Dabaa core catcher 'to be installed in October'

19 July 2023

The first large-scale nuclear power plant item - the core catcher for El Dabaa unit 1 - is to be installed in October, the chairman of Egypt's Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) has said.

The site visit allowed an update on progress (Image: NPPA)

The 6.1 metre diameter core catcher, in the shape of a steel cone, is a key part of the passive safety systems for the VVER-1200 reactor. It arrived in Egypt in March and its function is that "in case of an emergency, it securely retains the fragments of the molten core and prevents the discharge beyond the reactor building containment".

Speaking during a visit to the plant by Rosatom Director General Alexei Likhachev and Mohamed Shaker, Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Sources, Amged El-Wakeel, chairman of NPPA, praised the "concerted efforts" and "fruitful cooperation" of the two sides, noting that this year will have seen permission granted, and first concrete, of the fourth unit "and we will also witness the installation of the first nuclear equipment in the first power unit - the core catcher - on 6 October".

During the visit they also inspected the specialised docking facility developed for the site and inaugurated an NPPA administrative building.

Likhachev said construction of the first three units was all on schedule and "by the end of this year, we expect to obtain the construction licence for unit 4 from the supervisory authority of Egypt - the Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority". He added: "After this, we will be able to carry out the first concrete pouring, which will mean the beginning of the main stage of unit 4 construction."

The El Dabaa nuclear power plant project - about 320 kilometres north-west of Cairo - is based on contracts that entered into force on 11 December 2017. The plant will comprise four VVER-1200 units, like those already in operation at the Leningrad and Novovoronezh nuclear power plants in Russia, and the Ostrovets nuclear power plant in Belarus.

The contracts stipulate that Rosatom will not only build the plant, but will also supply Russian nuclear fuel for its entire life cycle. They will also assist Egyptian partners in training personnel and plant maintenance for the first 10 years of its operation. Rosatom is also contracted to build a special storage facility and supply containers for storing used nuclear fuel.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News