KARACHI: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has completed the key Generic Reactor Safety Review (GRSR) of ACP-1000 nuclear reactors, which Pakistan is installing in Karachi to deal with a dilapidating energy crisis.
The IAEA confirmed to The Express Tribune via email that GRSR of reactors indigenously designed by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) was completed in late January.
Earlier, some industrial publications reported GRSR’s completion based on CNNC’s announcement but this is the first time IAEA has officially acknowledged it.
However, the IAEA clarified the review only gauges safety aspect of the reactor design and does not constitute as any kind of certification or approval.
“This type of review gathers international experts to conduct an early evaluation of the safety case of new designs that are not yet licensed using IAEA Safety Requirements,” said Susanna LÖÖF, IAEA’s press and publication officer.
“The review is not a clearance process but a review of quality of safety documents identifying strengths, weaknesses and gaps,” Susanna added.
The ACP-1000 is a third-generation pressurised water reactor (PWR) capable of generating 1,100 megawatts of electricity.
“Such evaluations provide an opportunity to improve safety case based on international standards and experience but do not constitute any kind of design certification or licensing activity as this is responsibility of member state.”
Nevertheless, CNNC has already declared GRSR as a victory with one its senior officials telling China Daily in December that the company can now easily sell reactors outside of China.
Energy-starved Pakistan has been pushing for two of these reactors to be built in the port-city of Karachi near an existing nuclear power plant despite opposition from civil activists and bad press in the United States.
PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST
A senior official of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) said GRSR’s completion means IAEA experts are satisfied with reactor’s design with it comes to safety.
“But every country has its own standards and regulations as well. Now it is up to us to decide where we install it,” he said.
Some individuals have been raising concern about the design of ACP-1000, suggesting that particular reactors have never been tried before. But PAEC experts have rubbished the criticism as the China itself is going to use same reactors. The new designs are basically more efficient and more advanced in terms of safety while basic technology remains the same, they say.