Third Egyptian reactor receives construction permit

31 March 2023

Egypt's nuclear regulator has issued a construction licence for unit 3 of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant, which will eventually house four Russian-supplied reactors. Construction of unit 3 is scheduled to begin in the coming months.

Workers prepare for the pouring of first concrete at the site of El Dabaa unit 3 (Image: NPPA)

The Egyptian Nuclear and Radiological Regulatory Authority (ENRRA) carried out a comprehensive inspection at the El Dabaa site between 11 and 17 March, checking the readiness for commencement of construction of unit 3. 

NPPA said the issuance of the licence "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".

It added: "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."

The El Dabaa nuclear power plant project - about 320 kilometres north-west of Cairo - is based on contracts between NPPA and Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom 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 plants in Russia, and the Ostrovets 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. Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power is constructing 80 buildings and supplying materials for the non-nuclear turbine islands.

NPPA applied to ENNRA for construction licences for units 3 and 4 in January 2022, six months after applying for those of units 1 and 2.

Construction of unit 1 began in July last year, with that of unit 2 following in November.

"Receipt of the licence for construction of unit 3 is the result of huge effort for the preparation of the licence documentation," said Alexander Korchagin, AtomStroyExport (ASE) senior vice president for the NPP construction project. "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 nuclear power plant in Egypt".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News