Nuclear Power Plant to Be Started in 2017

Posted on FEBRUARY 24, 2014 Written by 

Ninh Thuan province is trusted by central authorities to house national key projects, especially two nuclear power plants. The construction of these two nuclear power plants is extremely important to national energy security and national development. This is also a chance for Ninh Thuan province to lift its position in the eyes of investors, to create stepping stones to leap forward and realise the ambition of becoming a clean energy centre of the nation. The following is an interview with Mr Nguyen Manh Hung, Deputy Director of Ninh Thuan Nuclear Power Project Management Board, on the progress of the two projects. Hoang Lam and Cong Luan report.

How are the designs created, assessed and approved, and resettlement costs estimated for Ninh Thuan 1 and 2 nuclear power plants? Infrastructure construction will be started in 2014 to serve the construction of the nuclear power plants. Would you be kind enough to elaborate construction roadmaps?

The residential resettlement project for two nuclear power plants is one of 10 component projects of the Ninh Thuan nuclear power project, invested by the Ninh Thuan Provincial People’s Committee. According to the plan, there will be two well-built resettlement areas for the two plants. On August 28, 2013, the Prime Minister issued Decision 1504/QD-TTg to approve the compensation mechanism and resettlement support policy for the nuclear power project. The Ninh Thuan Provincial People’s Committee also established the Resettlement Project Management Unit to undertake this project. The mapping at a scale of 1:500 and investment project were completed in 2013 and are expected to be submitted to the Prime Minister for approval in the first quarter of 2014. After that, the province will establish construction designs and carry out site clearance and land compensation to start the construction on resettlement zones in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Regarding infrastructure construction at the service sites for the two nuclear power plants, in January 2013, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) approved investment and design sub-projects for this project, including electricity and water supply works for the two plants, and roads linking the National Road 1A and coastal roads, which will also help tap local advantages and potential for economic development. Technical design documents and construction drawings for these items will be completed this year. Appraisal for these will be conducted in early 2014 and construction tenders will be organised at the end of 2014.

Regarding the two nuclear power plant projects, as we know, these two key national projects must meet all requirements stated in Resolution 41/2009/QH12 of the 12th National Assembly, specifically advanced technology, absolute safety, and must, at the same time, comply with construction investment orders of Vietnam. Therefore, investment preparation and implementation phases must be deployed carefully, from survey and design to evaluation, approval, construction management, commissioning and operation. EVN submitted to theState Evaluation Board the Ninh Thuan 2 nuclear power plant document in December 2013, and the Ninh Thuan 1 nuclear power plant document in the first quarter of 2014 for review, before forwarding to the Prime Minister for approval. Then, we will establish technical designs to lay the groundwork for tenders and construction as specified by the Law on Construction and the Law on Atomic Energy. We hope to start the construction of the nuclear power facilities in 2017, commence commercial operation of the first reactor in 2023 and the second reactor in 2024. However, the exact time to start construction can be adjusted by decision of the Prime Minister.

The construction of the Ninh Thuan nuclear power plants not only helps ensure energy security and create motivation to spur economic development investment, but also opens up a new development direction for service, tourism and trade sectors of Ninh Thuan province. Could you tell us more about these positive impacts?

Firstly, we need nearly 30,000 workers in the construction phase, of whom about 3,000 will be foreign experts from many countries, accompanied by their families. Many services will be formulated to serve workers, both domestic and foreign, and their families during the seven years of construction, including housing, hotel, restaurant, office, sporting, culture, communication and transport. Secondly, with the huge demand for material supplies for construction (2 million cubic metres of concrete and 300,000 tonnes of steel), Ninh Thuan must prepare an on-site supply system. Thirdly, the province will help local residents to change their occupations and train workers for the project.

In addition, when the two plants go into operation, they will produce 28 billion kWh of electricity a year. And, with a price of 8 cents per kWh, the annual revenue will be US$2.24 billion and tax revenue for the Provincial Budgetwill be VND5,000 billion a year.

To minimise nuclear power incidents in the two plants, how are safety issues addressed?

After the Fukushima incident (Japan), the safety issue for nuclear power plants is more of a focus. But, the most important are still the strict compliance to 3S principles (Safety, Safeguards and Security) that IAEA recommends in 19 infrastructure issues for nuclear power plants.

Designers must take into consideration solutions to cope with the most adverse and extreme natural phenomena like rainstorms, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis; impacts of tectonic faults; climate change phenomena and rising sea levels at the project site. Designs must follow special-level standards, ensure the highest safety and security beyond all assumptions built on in-depth protection principles. Besides, high quality human resources training is the most basic requirement for operating the plants.

Plant operating personnel are the key to ensure safe nuclear power. Could you elaborate about human resources training for State nuclear power management, nuclear legal regulation, project management and plant operation in the future?

Tasked by the Government to manage and operate the plants, EVN prepared resources and coordinated with theMinistry of Education and Training to conduct nuclear energy training since 2006. Up to the present time, Vietnam has sent 198 students to study nuclear power in Russian universities (including 41 students from Ninh Thuan province). Presently, EVN is deploying a personnel training project adopted by the Prime Minister in April2013 to manage and operate the two nuclear power plants. Specifically, a total of 220 people will be needed for project management and 2,200 people will be needed for operation. Besides, EVN annually sends 10-15 engineers working in thermal and hydropower plants to study in nuclear power plants in Japan. They will be the key force to run the facilities in the future. In the coming years, EVN will continue to recruit and send talented students to study the nuclear power industry. On the other hand, the group will continue to coordinate with the Ministry of Education and Training to enrol, support budgets and carry out commitment procedures with chosen students for long service at the project after they graduate.

Currently, our Project Management Unit has 113 employees, with 97 holding university degrees or higher, including three nuclear power doctors and 10 masters trained in Russia and the Czech Republic. EVN regularly sends PMU engineers to short training courses on project management, contract management, nuclear safety, building a culture of safety, propaganda and mass media in Vietnam and other countries, organised and funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA.

To recruit human resources for nuclear energy projects, on October 14, 2013, the Government issued Decree 124/2013-ND-CP on preferential policies and supports for trainees. This effort reflects the Government’s determination in personnel training for organisations participating in nuclear power programmes in Vietnam.

Would you be kind enough to talk about the role and significance of public information about nuclear power? How has this been pursued in Ninh Thuan?

As known, in any country, to successfully build nuclear power programmes, public information is very important and is a regular job. Currently, EVN is investing VND120 billion to build a public relations centre for nuclear energy in Ninh Thuan province, expected to put into operation in 2016.

Activities that our PMU have carried out aim to inform the public of the necessity of nuclear power plant construction, as well as its role and significance, and of plant safety measures; and enhance the fine relationship between EVN with local governments and residents. The main activity is the dissemination of nuclear energy knowledge through seminars, exhibitions and study tours. In addition, we have also organised more than 15 tours for over 600 delegates of Ninh Thuan province to learn about nuclear power in the Da Lat Nuclear Research Institute.

In addition, we also focus on supporting dwellers in the project site and in Ninh Thuan province by hosting cultural activities, encouraging students to continue to study, and supporting families in difficult circumstances.