Home Bangladesh High-risk nuclear fuel shouldn’t run in capital
Bangladesh - Power & Energy - September 13, 2023

High-risk nuclear fuel shouldn’t run in capital

Contractor won’t take any responsibility
-Finance Dept gives Tk 4346 cr guarantee
-No local insurer agrees to guarantee risk

Mahfuz Emran: The nuclear fuel for the Rooppur Power Plant is importing without any insurance coverage, which is scheduled to arrive in October. The highly risky nuclear fuel will carry by road from Dhaka airport to Rooppur in IshwardiUpazila of Pabna. Experts told, “If any unwanted situation may happen then the capital city to be destroyed with ash.”
The experts also commented that the highly risky nuclear fuel should not transport in the capital city at any way due to ascertain its devastation risk. The authority should any alternative route, they suggested.
The finance department has given a compensation guarantee of SDR 300 million (Tk 4346 crore in local currency) to ease the complications of importing nuclear fuel for Rooppur power plant.
The amount of compensation is determined by international law. The finance department has given this guarantee for compensation in case of nuclear accident during transportation of this fuel or in the power plant. On the other hand, the project’s Russian contractor company ‘JSC Atomstroy Export’ is not taking any financial responsibility in this case. Recently Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has signed a document in this regard. This information was found in the relevant sources.
The construction of a nuclear power plant with a total capacity of 2400 MW in two units of 1200 MW each is underway at Rooppur in IshwardiUpazila of Pabna. It is the first nuclear power plant in the country. In this center, nuclear fuel is coming to the country by next October. The nuclear fuel will be transported to Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by special cargo aircraft from Rashan Federation. The fuel will be transported from the airport to the Rooppur power plant by JSC Atomstroy Export, a contracting company. It will be under the supervision of various law enforcement forces of the country and the convoy formed with the participation of the relevant ministries.
As per rules, such power plants have to be insured against accidental damage while carrying nuclear fuel. But no insurance was taken for compensation against accident while carrying nuclear fuel at Rooppur power station.
Sources also said that onsite inspections will begin to ensure side readiness for import of nuclear fuel. As a result, the import of nuclear fuel will become uncertain if there is no financial guarantee for compensation by September 20. Because according to the principle of ‘Civil Liability for Damage’, there should be an insurance policy or financial guarantee against the compensation of nuclear accidents during the transportation of nuclear fuel in such power plants or within the power plant. Nuclear fuel import permit is not issued without a formal guarantee. And if this activity is carried out without the financial guarantee, the Class D license issued by Bapshik in favor of Russian subcontractor Brarus Project Logistics will be cancelled. However, the Russian contractor of the power plant informed the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission long ago by highlighting these issues.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has to guarantee this compensation. Because the relevant law says so. As per Section 43 of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory (BEAR) Act-2012, the operator (domestic/foreign) is liable for any damage caused by any nuclear incident in a nuclear installation. On the other hand, a general agreement has been signed with the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and the contractor Atomstroy Export for the establishment of nuclear power plants in the country. It states that the operator country will be responsible for any damage that occurs during transportation, handling or storage and any contaminated materials or any part of the NPP equipment. Nuclear equipment, installations and related technology to be imported from the Russian Federation under the Agreement.
According to related sources, recently the finance department has given this financial guarantee for a short period of 6 months. According to the report signed by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, nuclear fuel oil from Rooppur power plant will reach the country in a very short time. No Bangladeshi insurance company has the capacity to insure the compensation worth Tk 4346 crore according to the exchange rate of SDR 300 million during this period. Apart from this, the Ministry of Science and Technology was asked to know whether the international insurance companies will be able to provide insurance within this short period of time, if so, the amount of insurance related expenses, the effect on the price of electricity produced. They failed to tell that too.
It is also said that the financial assurance or insurance policy should continue as long as the Rooppur power project is operational. As a result, it is very risky for the government to provide financial guarantees at high cost for such a long period of time. However, the finance department provides guarantees against the loans of various institutions of the state. The Finance Department never gives any financial guarantee on behalf of the government against any possible mishap. In all respects the Finance Department has given a guarantee against compensation for six months.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Dr. Ashok Kumar Pal has recently written to the Finance Ministry. There, he said, the Insurance Corporation discussed the insurance policy premium rate and other conditions worth SDR 300 million with London-based Tycer Group Service Limited and Moscow-based Atom Insurance Brokers. But from the status of discussions with both the institutions, it seems that fixing the insurance premium rate is a time-consuming matter.

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