Energy-starved Bangladesh signs nuclear power deal with Russia

Story highlights

  • Two power plants will be set up in Bangladesh and funded by Russia
  • Construction of the plants would begin in 2013
  • Bangladesh has acute energy shortages; many offices are without power for hours
Bangladesh in its first move to go for nuclear power signed a deal with Russia to meet its widening energy deficit.
"Russia will build two nuclear power plants, and each of the units will produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity," said Yeafesh Osman, a junior minister in charge of Bangladesh's Science and Technology.
Osman and Sergey Kirienko, director general of Russian state-controlled nuclear corporation Rosatom, signed the intergovernmental agreement in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday in the presence of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The nuclear power blocks will be set up in Rooppur town, about 170 kilometers northwest of and they will be funded by Russia.
Osman said the construction of the plants would begin in 2013, and it would take nearly five years to complete.
"The possible security and safety measures will be taken in installing the NPP, keeping the Fukushima accident in mind," Osman said.
The blocks will have dual containment of the reactor, a passive heat removal system and hydrogen recombiners, Kirienko said. "Russia will supply nuclear fuel for the plants for the entire period of its exploitation."
"The power plant will remain safe even if a massive earthquake and tsunami simultaneously take place or any aircraft weighing 4,000 tons crashes on it," Kirienko said.
The energy-starved South Asian nation has acute energy shortages. Hardly any office or factory goes unaffected by power cuts, sometimes lasting for hours.
The government also faces difficulties in managing the angry mobs that often attack and ransack the power offices.
According to statistics from the country's Power Development Board, only half of the country's 150 million people have access to electricity. It produces on an average 5,000 megawatts of electricity a day, with a deficit of more than 1,000 megawatts.