ABU DHABI- The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) celebrated the graduation of its first group of Local Operators this week, following the completion of a specialized training program designed to equip trainees with the expertise necessary to oversee safe operations at the UAE’s first nuclear energy plants.
Local Operators supervise operations across a nuclear energy facility, reporting on systems, controlling equipment and directly monitoring plant equipment performance. The group of ten Emirati graduates is now the UAE’s first fully qualified Local Operators in the country’s emerging nuclear energy sector, and will join ENEC full time as part of the team working towards the start of commercial operations in 2017.
Delivered at leading educational and nuclear training facilities in the UAE and Korea, the 15-month Local Operator training is part of ENEC’s Energy Pioneers program, which aims to attract and develop the country’s most talented science students, engineering graduates and experienced professionals and provide them with an opportunity to become pioneers of the UAE’s nuclear energy industry.
Local Operators are trained to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of a nuclear energy facility. They play an integral role in safe operations, and are assigned throughout the plant to provide constant monitoring and operation of plant equipment, reporting back to the Reactor Operators and Senior Reactor Operators in the plant’s Main Control Room.
The students who graduated include Huda Al Qassab, Aaref Al Shehhi, Faisal Al Shamsi, Mohammed Al Shehhi, Rashid Salah, Saeed Ibrahim, Saud Abdulla, Sultan Al Memari, Tareq AlBlooshi and Omar Al Shehhi.
“The UAE’s peaceful nuclear energy program is built on the most rigorous standards of safety, quality and security, and world class training is fundamental to developing a talented Emirati workforce with the skills and experience required to maintain this commitment,” said Mohamed Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC.
“It is with great pride that we see our first group of Local Operators graduate today. These are the individuals who will supervise safe and efficient operations at our plants, and throughout their training they have excelled to the highest standards, demonstrating the ability to carrying out work with safety and quality top of mind at all times.”
ENEC’s specialized training program for Local Operators was developed in conjunction with its Prime Contractor, the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). The program consists of various modules including classroom training on nuclear fundamentals delivered at the Institute of Applied Technology in Abu Dhabi, nuclear systems and on-the-job training at KEPCO’s facilities in South Korea, followed by additional training at ENEC’s new state-of-the-art Simulator Training Center at Barakah in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi – the site of the UAE’s nuclear energy plants.
For the final stage of the program, the trainees complete a six month hands-on plant commissioning assignment at the Barakah site, to provide valuable plant experience prior to the start-up of Unit 1 in 2017. In line with ENEC’s commitment to continued learning and improvement, Local Operators will also receive requalification training every six weeks.
ENEC’s latest graduates are one of four groups of Local Operators, Reactor Operators and Senior Reactor Operators currently at various stages of training as part of ENEC’s Energy Pioneers program. ENEC is committed to developing the next generation of nuclear energy leaders, and by 2020, will need around 2000 employees to operate its four nuclear energy plants and help power the future growth of the nation. Talented Emirati nationals will play an important role in achieving this goal, with ENEC’s current Emiratization rate at almost 67 per cent.
ENEC’s first two units are now more than 45% complete, and are being constructed safely, on time and within budget. Unit 1 is scheduled to enter commercial operations in 2017, and Unit 2 is scheduled for operations in 2018, pending regulatory approvals. ENEC will apply for an Operating License for Units 1 and 2 in 2015.
ENEC has recently been granted approval for additional civil works relating to Barakah Units 3 & 4 under its Limited Construction License. This approval will help to ensure that the Units remain on schedule to enter commercial operations in 2019 and 2020 respectively.