CHASHMA (Mianwali): Inaugurating the country’s third nuclear power plant here on Thursday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani expressed the hope that Pakistan and China would live up to the challenge of providing more than 8,800 MW of electricity through nuclear power plants by 2030.
The Chashma Nuclear Power Plant Unit-1 (CHASNUPP-2) is located near the Chashma Barrage on the left bank of River Indus, 32 kilometres south of Mianwali city and 280 kilometres south-west of Islamabad. It has become operational and will pump 330 MWs into the national grid to help meet the country’s growing energy demands.
Addressing the gathering after taking a round of the gigantic project, the prime minister urged the international community to eliminate discrimination between nations and make this promising technology accessible to Pakistan for peaceful use such as for power generation.
He termed the moment a proud day for Pakistan and its civil nuclear energy programme. He said the completion of Chashma-2 three months ahead of schedule without any additional cost was a reward for the joint efforts of the Chinese and Pakistani teams, the benefits of which will go directly to the people of Pakistan.
“It is yet another illustriousexample of Pakistan-China cooperation in the field of nuclear science and technology. Completion of this project takes to even greater heights the long and time-tested friendship between the two countries and their people,” the prime minister said.
He added that the government was fully conscious of the sufferings of the people and the adverse effects of electricity shortfall on industrial production and economic growth of the country. “We are duty bound to make every effort to overcome the prevailing crisis by exploiting all available sources and avenues of power generation in the shortest possible time,” he added.
The prime minister said this additional 330 MW of electricity would provide immediate relief to a section of consumers as two more power plants C-3 and C-4 already under construction at this site would enable the PAEC to meet the target of 8,800 MW by 2030.
He emphasised paying full attention to the safety of the current and future nuclear power plants of the country and expressed satisfaction on the ongoing review of safety assessment and emergency preparedness of the plants in the wake of nuclear accident in Japan.
The prime minister pointed that Pakistan had been consistently complying with the requirements of nuclear safeguard agreements signed between the Government of Pakistan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and said this would continue to be the practice for all civil nuclear power plants to be built in Pakistan in future.
The prime minister acknowledged China’s strong support in this area, saying during his forthcoming visit to China shortly, he would personally thank the Chinese leadership for their strategic support in helping Pakistan meet its nuclear energy targets.
Chairman PAEC Dr Ansar Parvez said two more plants, C3 and C4, had already been planned in accordance with safeguard agreements with IAEA approved by its board of governors in March. He said the C3 would come on line in 2016 while the groundbreaking for the C4 will take place next month and it will come online 10 months after the C3. He said the events at Fukushima nuclear power plant have been closely monitored and, where required, additional measures would be taken to further improve the safety and emergency planning.
Dr Ansar said plans were also afoot to develop the required human resources to increase indigenous capability of equipment manufacturing and enhance fuel cycle handling capacity. He said the C1 had operated with higher than 98 percent availability factor and a capacity factor above 95 percent. He said the tariff settled with NEPRA is Rs4.6 per unit or 5.5 cents. He said the project had also impacted the socio-economic conditions of the people living in adjoining areas since 40 percent employees belonged to the Mianwali district.
Vice Administrator of SASTIND Wang Yiren congratulated Pakistan on the early completion of the plant and said ties between the two countries were rock solid. He said both countries needed to strengthen cooperation in nuclear safety and hoped that the joint Pakistan-China team would ensure timely completion of C3 and C4.
The construction on the pressurised water reactor, built with the Chinese assistance, began on December 28, 2005 and was connected to the national grid on March 14, 2011. The plant has a net capacity of 300 MW, and gross capacity is 325 MW.
With the CHASNUPP-2 operational, the country’s nuclear energy generation has risen to 725 megawatts, or 2.8 percent of total electricity generated in the country. The IAEA Board of Governors had unanimously approved the safeguards agreement between Pakistan and IAEA in respect of CHASHMA-2 nuclear power in November 2006.
The main part of the plant was designed by Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute (SNERDI) and started operations in May 2000. It has a design life of 40 years. Work on Chashma-3 and Chashma-4 reactors is under way and on completion they will add another 600 megawatts to the national grid.
Prime Minister Gilani lauded the CNNC and other Chinese teams and PAEC for their excellent planning and execution. Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Khalid Shamim Wyne, Lt Gen (retd), Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, DG Strategic Plans Division, minister for water and power, Syed Naveed Qamar, acting Speaker National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi and chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Dr Ansar Parvez accompanied the prime minister. Former foreign secretary Riaz Muhammad Khan, who served as Pakistan’s envoy to China, and current ambassador in Beijing Masood Khan were also present.
Later, in a special briefing for the media, Chairman PAEC Dr Ansar Pervaiz said the country’s nuclear power plants were functioning in accordance with the safety regulations of the IAEA. He revealed that the very minute increase in the radiation levels in Pakistan in the aftermath of Fukushima incident had now died down. He said the PAEC had formed three teams to look into nine different areas in the wake of Fukushima disaster.
Dr Pervaiz said the cost of plant was initially high but the running cost is low with Rs4.20 per unit against Rs16 produced by the Independent Power Plants (IPPs). He said the construction of Chashma-3 power plant had already started while work on Chashma-4 would start in June next.