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Unitede Arab Emirates $32 billion Barakah nuclear plant poses environmental, safety, and security problems

Does the UAE’s Barakah nuclear plant create more problems than it solves?  TRT World, 18 Mar 21, 

Part of Abu Dhabi’s clean energy push, the $32 billion nuclear power station risks destabilising a volatile region with detrimental consequences for the environment.

The UAE’s Barakah nuclear power plant will begin supplying electricity to the national grid at the end of this month………..

Jointly developed by ENEC and Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), construction of the $32 billion project began in July 2012 and was completed in May 2018.

Financed through a $16.2 billion direct loan from the Abu Dhabi government and a $2.5 billion loan from the Export-Import Bank of Korea, the plant’s reactors are licensed by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety and projected to have a lifespan of 60 years.

The first reactor at the plant started operations last year after being connected to the national grid. Fuel is being loaded into a second reactor, which is planned to begin operating later this year. In total, four reactors will eventually operate at the site.

…………. Is Barakah worth the risk?

While the UAE inaugurates the development of civilian nuclear energy, several concerns have been being raised.

The plant, which lies on the western coast of the country, is in close proximity to Qatar. Doha has called Barakah a “flagrant threat” to regional peace and the environment, warning that a radioactive plume from an accidental discharge at the station could reach the country in five to thirteen hours.

Some have questioned the logic of introducing nuclear power in the UAE, where solar power is clearly abundant. Furthermore, in a region where tensions run high, Barakah could provoke the possibility of nuclear proliferation.

“The tense Gulf strategic geopolitical situation makes new civil nuclear construction in the region even more controversial than elsewhere, as it can mean moves towards nuclear weapon capability, as experience with Iran has shown,” argued Paul Dorfman, founder and chair of the International Nuclear Consulting Group.

Saudi Arabia has already pushed ahead with plans to complete its first nuclear reactor under the auspices of the Saudi National Atomic Energy Project. But as Yemen’s Houthi drone strikes against the kingdom’s oil refineries in 2019 indicate, nuclear energy safety will have to be linked to regional security.

Similarly, the spillover effect from the UAE’s foreign policy could make nuclear plants like Barakah a target for politically motivated actors. That Houthi rebels alleged to have fired a missile at the site in 2017, which the UAE denied, could become instantly catastrophic for the Gulf were a future attack to be successful.

There are also detrimental environmental costs. The Gulf region is among the world’s most water-scarce in the world and heavily dependent on desalination, and any accidental nuclear waste spill would have disastrous maritime consequences.

Not to mention climate change itself could impact Barakah, seeing as coastal nuclear sites will be increasingly vulnerable to rising sea levels……….

March 19, 2021 - Posted by | environment, safety, United Arab Emirates

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