Published:  12:00 AM, 19 March 2017

BD, Russia okay nuclear waste pact

Bangladesh and Russia have initialed a draft agreement on spent fuel management of Rooppur nuclear power plant (RNPP) project. According to a press statement, issued by Russian contractor Rosa-tom, both sides Dhaka and Moscow singed the initial draft on March 15 in Dhaka.

"The two sides agreed to prepare the final documents for formal signing at the earliest," said the statement. However, it did not provide any detail of the agreement, reports UNB. Bangladesh had earlier signed a number of agreements with Russia to build a 2,400MW nuclear power plant with two units of each carring 1200 MW capacity in Rooppur at a cost of about $12.65 billion, equivalent to Tk 101,200 crore.

Russian nuclear agency Rosatom will work as the key contractor for the project. Russia will provide $11.385 billion as loan for the project, which is 90 percent of the project's construction cost.

Besides, Bangladesh paid $550 to Rosatom for design and feasibility purpose. Officials at the Ministry of Science and Technology said the Russian side had initially given an idea that Moscow will repatriate the spent fuel at its own arrangement. But after the signing of some vital agreements, Moscow was refusing to repatriate the spent fuel.

At one stage of negotiations between the two sides, Moscow expressed interest to take back spent fuel, but demanded excessive extra cost for the job, said an official at the ministry who preferred not to be named.

"Now it's not clear how much Bangladesh will have to pay Russia for the job," he added. Meanwhile, the Rosatom statement mentioned that a Russian delegation comprising Nikolay Spassky, Deputy CEO of State Atomic Energy Corpor-ation Rosatom and Alexey Ferapontov, Deputy Head of the Federal Enviro-nmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia (Rostek-hnadzor) was on a two-day visit to Dhaka to discuss various issues relating to Rooppur NPP construction with their Bangladesh counterpart. Alexander Ignatov, Russian Amba-ssador to Bangladesh, also joined the sessions. The preparation for the intergovernmental agreement on spent fuel management

for the Rooppur NPP was the central issue of the discussion. After a detailed negotiation, both sides reached a consensus on the issue, it said. The Rosatom said the other issues which were discussed are schedule of events related to completion of the preparatory phase contracts and the beginning of the main phase of the Rooppur NPP construction.

Both the sides came to a general understanding that the key task in the upcoming period is to ensure the 'first concrete' pouring at the power unit 1 of the Rooppur NPP within the stipulated time frame.

A special working group has been formed in order to ensure current cooperation involving regulators from both the countries, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) and ASE Group of Companies.

As part of the program, the Russian delegation visited the Rooppur NPP construction site and joined a working meeting.

The preliminary results of the scheduled work for the RNPP will be presented during a meeting of the Joint Coordination Council scheduled to be held in Moscow in June- July 2017, said Rosatom.

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