Construction of Bangladesh's first nuclear power reactor, Rooppur 1, has officially begun, with the pouring of the first concrete for the reactor's basemat.
The pouring of the first nuclear safety-related concrete for the power plant made Bangladesh the third ‘newcomer’ country to start constructing its first nuclear power reactor in three decades – following the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and Belarus in 2013.
It will be the third South Asian country after India and Pakistan to access nuclear energy — a development that could alter the power structure in South Asia.
The Rooppur plant involves two units, each with a capacity of 1200 MW and is situated on the bank of the Padma river, about 100 miles from the country's capital of Dhaka.
The project is being implemented by the state-run Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) under the Science and Technology Ministry, with financial, technical and technological support from Russia through its state nuclear agency, Rosatom.
Plans for the plant date back to November 2011, when Bangladesh signed an agreement with Rosatom to construct the nuclear plant.
Under the deal, Russia agreed to provide all assistance for running the plant, including providing the fuel and taking back the radioactive waste for reprocessing.
Officials said this will be the final phase of civil construction works to install a nuclear reactor, which is now being built by Rosatom in Russia for Bangladesh.
Atomstroyexport, the contractor appointed by Rosatom, will build the power plant at a cost of US$12.65bn.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said: “This is a joyful day for us. Bangladesh enters the nuclear world with the beginning of the construction work of the main structure. It's a pride and joy for us as a nation.”
The premier thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country’s contributions.
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority has been continuously supervising and monitoring the safety aspects at every step of the plant as per Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Act-2012 and the IAEA guidelines.
Hasina said her government has given top priority to the issue of nuclear safety and radiological protections while implementing the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant.
"We're strictly following IAEA safety standard and other relevant guidance as well as international good practices.
"We've promulgated Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Act-2012 to strengthen national nuclear regulatory infrastructure to ensure safe and secured applications to nuclear techniques and building the country's first nuclear power plant.
"Our nuclear energy programme is very transparent. The country has signed all the major international treaties, agreements and protocols related to the nuclear non-proliferation," she added