100 pc dependence on Russia may bring havoc
Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant
Farhad Chowdhury: Although the first unit of Rooppur nuclear power plant is supposed to start generating electricity in 2024, as per the new deadline, it is also doubtto be not possible.
As the construction of transmission line under Bangladesh Power Grid Company is not completed, this electricity does not seem to reach the people within that time.
According to sources, the transmission line involves the crossing of two rivers. There is doubt whether the line can be prepared in time by doing that job properly. All things considered, we can expect this electricity to be available to the public in 2025.
At this time, about 1200 megawatts from the first unit and about 1200 megawatts from the second unit the following year are expected to be available. Nuclear power will play a positive role in addressing the current power shortage. During this period, however, electricity from several large coal-fired power plants will be added to the national grid.
But the bigger concern is the safety of this nuclear power plant. In this context, the Professor of Geology Department of Dhaka University Badrul Imam said, the reason why nuclear power plants come into special discussion is that nuclear accidents can be more harmful, widespread and lasting than any other accident. The world has had instances of large-scale accidents at nuclear power plants in the past.
Still, many countries around the world keep nuclear power plants operational by using accident-proof technology.
The effectiveness of risk prevention depends on how advanced modern risk prevention technology is used and the technical skills and experience of the workforce in using this technology. Bangladesh’s own lack of technical skills and experience is a weakness in this regard. In case of any accident or disaster, there is a doubt in the native circles to be completely dependent on foreigners.
He said, I don’t know that there is a nuclear power plant in any country as densely populated as Bangladesh. I believe that the matter was taken into consideration during the feasibility study before the construction of Rooppur power plant. But the environment of West Bengal state of India is similar to our country. The West Bengal government rejected the Indian government’s plan to set up a nuclear power plant there.
An important aspect of such a project is the emergency evacuation plan or safe relocation plan. Sometimes an accident in a nuclear power plant requires immediate evacuation of the surrounding people. In general management, in case of such an accident, people should be immediately evacuated at least 20 km away from the power plant to protect them from the spread of radiation.
The area around Rooppur in Pabna is densely populated like other parts of the country. In such a reality, there is no information on how, where and how quickly the people in the vicinity can be relocated or how the preparations will be made in the event of a crisis. It is also important to make the local people aware about this.
He said, according to the information of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear company engaged in the construction of the Rooppur power plant, the two nuclear reactors installed in Rooppur are of the advanced VVR-1200 model of the third generation plus class. These reactors have five levels of safety management. According to Rosatom, there is nothing to worry about the risks of this power plant.
But the point is that accidents always come suddenly and unexpectedly, never with announcement. Rooppur’s technology can be state-of-the-art. However, it is certainly not on par with the technology of the Apollo lunar probes. An Apollo spacecraft operated by NASA was also destroyed in an accident on its way to the moon. In fact, there is no such thing as flawlessly safe. And our problem is more, because we are very weak in sharing information or using it.
Rooppur is Bangladesh’s biggest ever project. But I don’t hear any discussion or debate about it in parliament. There is no widespread public awareness on the question of its pros and cons, especially in the area where it is going to be, how much awareness is there among the people is a big question.
Regarding the 100% foreign dependence, he said that after the construction of the Rooppur nuclear power plant, the Russians will be in charge of managing it. Apart from this, it is known that an Indian team will be responsible for some issues. Due to the lack of knowledge and skills required to operate nuclear power plants, the Bangladeshi team will not be able to undertake the responsibility of its management. This is a big weakness for us.
Training of Bangladeshi scientists and technical staff is progressing but a long time is needed to acquire the necessary experience to run the centre. At present we are totally dependent on foreign countries in this regard. No one can say when I will be able to get out of this dependence.
In this case, Professor Dr. Badrul Imam cited the example of India. He said that the Indian nuclear power program was started in the sixties by the hands of the famous Indian physicist Homi Bhava. And all the nuclear power plants that have been built there to date are mainly built and operated by Indians. India is a capable country in this field, having gradually gained experience in building large-scale plants from the first 200 MW Tarapur nuclear power plant built in 1969.
But we are totally dependent on foreign countries without any experience and are setting up a huge power plant of 2400 megawatts. This 100% interdependence of ours certainly has great risks. Bangladesh will always be under pressure to accept the views and wishes of the other party if there is a disagreement on the management of this power plant or any other issue.
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