IAEA completes safety review of nuclear reactors destined for Pakistan

Published: March 10, 2015


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.

Read: China investing in six nuclear projects in Pakistan

“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.




Read: Fear grows over new nuclear reactors in Karachi

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.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Shakil Khan
    Mar 10, 2015 - 6:02PM

    Its being installed on existing site to share the facilities already there. So when Canadian installed the existing one, there was no hue and cry! as Pakistan was in good books! now its China and Pakistan the duo at odd side of west+india nexus.

    Hence bad press and so called individual who wakes up at single nuclear power plant when next door India is building hundreds without attracting any press at all :)
    IAEA review should hush those were against the very design of this reactor!

    on one hand west-India nexus will not provide Pakistan civil nuclear technology nut if it get it from China thats issue too? clearly motive is to keep Pakistan energy starved and its economy on its knees.Recommend

  • Wijdan
    Mar 10, 2015 - 6:39PM

    In the ACP1000 design for the new nuclear power plants to be built at Karachi, the reactor system itself is based on the PWR concept, which has been the workhorse of the nuclear industry in the past five decades. The ACP1000 design is a continuation of the development of the PWR concept in China, of which many are operational and under construction. It has many safety targets of the new generation of reactors and to incorporate the lessons learnt from the Fukushima Accident.PAEC has an enviable record of operation nuclear power plants for more than four decades without radioactivity releases that could be in any way be harmful to the environment, the general public, or even plant personnel. Recommend

  • Bewildered
    Mar 10, 2015 - 6:52PM

    USA operate 104 nuclear reactors for power generation. Around 1 million people live within 5 miles radius of those reactors while around 18.5 million live within 20 miles of radius.
    Ref: “Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors”Recommend

  • Been
    Mar 10, 2015 - 7:07PM

    The energy requirements of Pakistan are so huge that all sources of energy are welcome, including nuclear. Wind and solar energy generation can’t solve problem alone.Pakistan has no experience of windmills & solar but 55-reactor years of safe nuclear operating experience.ACP-1000 r Generatio-3 technology with enhanced safety measures.Karachi reactors based on tested designs with added safety features e.g. double shell containment of reactorRecommend

  • woody
    Mar 10, 2015 - 7:35PM


    USA operate 104 nuclear reactors for
    power generation. Around 1 million
    people live within 5 miles radius of
    those reactors

    Nuclear reactors have been out of favor in the USA for a long time – the last newly built reactor to enter service was Watts Bar 1 in Tennessee, in 1996Recommend

  • Hamid
    Mar 10, 2015 - 8:06PM

    These are double containment reactors with resistance to external attacks. adding that the reactor’s self-safety system eliminates chances of release of any fission particles. The water which cools the pressure vessel remains in the plant and seawater is only used to cool the water used in the plant. They never get mixed so there are no chances of contaminated water going into the sea. In nutshell these reactors are most advance version available in the marketRecommend

  • Raza
    Mar 10, 2015 - 8:09PM

    international use of the ACP1000 is still dependent on meeting country-specific standards and requirements, but passing the IAEA safety review will make this process easier.Recommend

  • Grammar Nazi
    Mar 10, 2015 - 8:52PM

    “does not CONSTITUTE AS any kind of certification or approval”
    “with ONE ITS senior officials”
    “THE CHINA itself is going to use same reactors”
    Who’s in charge of editing, here??Recommend

  • author
    Mar 10, 2015 - 11:08PM

    @Grammar Nazi:
    Thanks for pointing that out. Entire fault is mine. Recommend

  • Tania
    Mar 11, 2015 - 1:33PM

    There have been many concerns over the design ACP1000 for the Karachi Nuclear Power Plants in Pakistan. According to 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 end up the energy crisis. The major worry is of the design which is based on Pressurized Water Reactor and widely been used throughout the globe. Recommend

  • Firdous
    Mar 11, 2015 - 9:16PM

    These ACP-1000 reactors are also known as Hualong One. It is good to see that IAEA has cleared the reactors and PAEC has the capability to run this reactor safely. The reactor design, the ACP-1000’s safety features use advanced nuclear power technology which meets safety requirements and it should be properly tested before operations.Recommend

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