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ENERGY > United Arab Emirates ready to go nuclear

DUBAI - The Associated Press

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The United Arab Emirates geared up to begin construction of its first nuclear energy plant after the oil-rich country’s nuclear regulator gave its blessing for work to begin.

The green light by the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation will make the seven-state federation the first country in more than two and a half decades to begin building its first nuclear power plant. The license covers the construction of the first two reactors of a plant slated for a remote coastal site near the border with Saudi Arabia.

It is designed to meet growing demand for power in the rapidly developing country, which includes the Mideast commercial hub Dubai and the energy-rich capital Abu Dhabi. Despite its oil wealth, the OPEC member has to import natural gas to run many of its existing power plants and has struggled to keep up with demand.

FANR Director General William Travers called the granting of the construction license “an important milestone in any nuclear program.” “All of the specific characteristics of the site have been assessed,” he told The Associated Press. “It represents at least a preliminary approval of the design that’s been proposed.”

Travers, a veteran of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said the UAE regulator specifically asked the plant’s developer, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp., to examine lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster as part of the approval process.

“We had an opportunity ... to take account of Fukushima and do something on paper before it was already constructed,” he said.

July/18/2012

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