x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Oft-tested routine for nuclear reactor VIPs

On Korea's southeast coast, construction is nearing completion on the reactors that serve as a model for Abu Dhabi's.

KORI, SOUTH Korea // Visitors to the construction site of Korea's latest model in nuclear reactor technology are first treated to a video about its many safety advantages.

As the film about the APR-1400 reactors ends in the darkened room, automated shades draw back from floor-to-ceiling windows to reveal the immense concrete domes and construction cranes at the edge of the blue sea. Steam floats from a boiler undergoing tests, and workers in blue hard-hats confer at the base of the reactor buildings that seem as vast as a mall in Abu Dhabi.

The design of Shin-Kori 3 and 4, as the reactors are called, is to be nearly identical to the four a South Korean consortium is building in the UAE. Adjustments for the Gulf's climate, from larger pumps to more air-conditioning units, are undergoing review, along with the rest of the design, by the UAE regulator.

On a recent day at Kori, visitors representing some of the highest levels of the nuclear industry, from Japan to the Czech Republic, crowded towards the irresistible view.

South Korea has a well-rehearsed routine for international visitors to the world's newest nuclear exporter, from photo ops to special earphones for listening to engineers in the noisy interior of functioning plants nearby.

The first reactor is scheduled to come online next year, five years after the first spadefuls of earth were dug from this spot on Korea's south-east coast. The second reactor is due to follow in 2014. Another four are planned at the same site.

"The construction schedule is going well," said Lee Young-il, a vice president at Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, the company hosting the visit.

ayee@thenational.ae