In line with the UAE’s commitment to the highest standards of safety and security, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) continues to proactively respond to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last weeks, Health & Safety experts across Barakah and headquarters have been working in close collaboration with local and federal authorities, as well as the international nuclear community to implement COVID-19-specific safety measures to further protect employees and nuclear infrastructure from the outbreak.
“We understand that nuclear infrastructure organizations have the responsibility to uphold the highest standards of safety and security, even with non-nuclear issues such as viral outbreaks, which is why we are proactively implementing viral protection best practices,” said Eng. Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO, ENEC. “Although the situation is still developing, there are a number of lessons learned from our Korean partners, as well as nuclear plants globally, that we have already incorporated into our business continuity planning, alongside local and UAE authority guidelines. We place the highest level of priority on this situation to support the safety of our site and the health and wellbeing of our employees.”
Nawah, as a licensed nuclear operating entity, is using its rigorous Business Continuity Plans (BCM) to ensure the ongoing safety of the people, plant, the community and the environment. Nawah remains in regular contact with the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) to provide updates as the phases of the BCM are implemented.
Since the international outbreak of COVID-19, nuclear companies around the world are making significant efforts to share best practices on viral safety measures to protect sites. Nawah is maintaining frequent communications with other plants, coordinated by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO), in order to share information on preventative measures to minimize the risk of contamination.
To date, the following actions have been taken in the past weeks:
- The number of workers on site has been significantly reduced, to minimize the risk of an outbreak, with the majority of the workforce working remotely.
- Essential staff working on operations, maintenance and support of Unit 1 have been moved on site to reside in protected environments that benefit from enhanced safety and sanitization protocols. Social distancing guidelines continue to be enforced.
- Thermal monitoring at access points, with rapid isolation for those displaying symptoms and COVID-19 testing undertaken in line with government guidelines.
- Self-quarantine practices for those returning from abroad.
- Work on Barakah Units 2, 3 and 4, which are in the final stages of construction and commissioning, will be paused for two weeks to protect Unit 1 staff by minimizing the population and subsequent transmission risk within Barakah.
“These measures have helped us to protect our most precious assets: our people,” said Ali Al Zaabi, Situation Management Team Sponsor and ENEC Chief Operating Officer, “At present, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 across ENEC, and its subsidiaries Nawah Energy Company and Barakah One Company, and this will continue to be carefully monitored. We remain vigilant and have all the right systems and processes in place to protect Barakah, including early detection and containment, in line with international best practice.”
The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant will provide clean electricity to the nation and as such, is a critical national infrastructure asset. Therefore the start-up process on Unit 1 will continue as part of the preparation for future operations.
ENEC, Nawah and Barakah One Company continue to monitor the situation and remains committed to a safety-first approach. More information will be shared as the situation develops and further phases of the BCM plan will be implemented as necessary.
Since the launch of the UAE Peaceful Nuclear Energy Program, ENEC and its subsidiaries, Nawah and Barakah One Company, have prioritized the safety of the community, employees, the Barakah plant and the environment by implementing the highest international standards of safety and building on decades of experience from the global nuclear energy industry.