UAE wants to learn from Japan crisis

The UAE nuclear regulator said it had asked the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp (ENEC) to explain how it would apply lessons learned from Japan's nuclear disaster to its proposed new nuclear reactors.

The UAE has said it expects to start its first nuclear power plant in 2017. It expects nuclear energy to eventually account for 25 per cent of its power requirements.

Japan has battled to contain a radiation leak at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following a massive earthquake and tsunami which ravaged the reactors on March 11.

Over the weekend, the spike in radiation levels forced a suspension of work at the complex in northeast Japan, with experts warning that Japan faced a long fight to contain the world's most serious nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

"We understand that ENEC has been following the developments since the tsunami struck Japan and is considering whether there are any implications for its planned units," William Travers, director general of the UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), said in a statement.

FANR requested ENEC to provide by the end of April a description of its plans to review what happened on March 11 and to include any lessons learned into the design and operation of its proposed Braka reactors, the statement added.

The UAE independent nuclear safety regulator has been reviewing ENEC's construction licence application for two nuclear power plants at the Braka site since December 27 last year.

ENEC says it specialises in the "deployment, ownership and operation" of nuclear power plants in Abu Dhabi, "thereby providing a reliable source of energy to meet the UAE's growing energy needs".

The UAE, the world's third-largest oil exporter, has struggled to meet power demand growth as its economy expands.

It embarked on a nuclear programme to meet that demand rather than burn more oil, and export less crude, at its power plants.

Korea Electric Power Corp, which led a consortium that won the UAE nuclear deal in 2009, plans to build four 1,400 megawatt reactors on the coast of Abu Dhabi.

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