ABU DHABI //Construction of the UAE's first nuclear power plant is ahead of schedule, although three major milestones have yet to be achieved.
These include the placement of the reactor vessel, the completion of the Emergency Planning Procedure (EPP) and fuel loading.
Enec has said the reactor vessel would be installed at the power plant in July next year. This involves placing a protective containment vessel into the plant that will surround the nuclear fission core of the reactor.
"As we continue to make steady progress on construction, we remain firmly committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety, security and quality in everything we do," said the chief executive of Enec, Mohamed Al Hammadi, in a speech in March.
The country's EPP will be complete by 2015, according to Fahad Al Qahtani, the external communications director at Enec. The EPP will outline all the emergency procedures and scenarios and must be completed in line with the UAE's nuclear agenda and agreements.
"We are working on the EPP with the International Atomic Energy Agency and it will be ready by 2015," he said.
The first fuel will be loaded into unit one in October 2016, Mr Al Qahtani said. "Before the nuclear reactor goes online in 2017 we will have a team of fully trained and capable Emirati engineers and nuclear operators for the power plant. We aim to have them operational by the time of the fuel loading in 2016."
A major item was crossed off Enec's to-do list this month after the signing in Vienna of an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The deal, known as an integrated work plan, establishes the framework for the country's collaboration with the IAEA until the completion of the first nuclear power plant in 2017 and covers 19 key areas, including environmental safeguards, radiation protection, emergency planning, security and legislation.
Ground for the second reactor was broken in April, a move described by Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the IAEA and board member of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, as "one of the most aggressive deployments of a new project in recent times".
Unit one had its containment liner plate (CLP) installed in the reactor containment building in March. The cylindrical steel shell forms the inner wall, ceiling and floor of the reactor containment building.
The CLP is one of the many defence-in-depth barriers designed to ensure the safety of nuclear energy plants. It is the first modularised section of the 2,000-tonne steel cylinder that will eventually house the reactor.
"This installation of the CLP was a challenging and complicated operation," Mr Al Hammadi said. "Its successful completion is a testament to the strong safety culture we have fostered here at Barakah."