The Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), the United Arab Emirates’ independent nuclear regulator, has issued its 2020 Annual Report, illustrating its efforts to regulate nuclear and radiological sectors in the UAE to ensure the protection the public, workers and the environment. In 2020, despite the challenges caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, FANR successfully maintained its regulatory functions by conducting oversight covering nuclear safety, radiation safety, nuclear security, nuclear non-proliferation, continued its capacity building programme to equip Emiratis to ensure sustainability of the nuclear and radiation sectors as well as streamlining its national and international cooperation.
The Barakah Nuclear Power Plant FANR issued the first operating license for the Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant in February 2020, making the UAE as the first Arab country to operate a nuclear power plant. The operating license was issued for Nawah Energy Company (Nawah), the operator, to operate the plant for a period of 60 years. The issuance decision culminates FANR’s efforts since it received the Operating License Application from the operator in 2015 and hence, FANR followed a systematic review process that included a thorough assessment of the application documentation, conducting robust regulatory oversight and inspections. FANR reviewed the 14,000 page Operating License Application, conducted more than 185 inspections and requested approximately 2,000 additional requests of information on various matters related to reactor design, safety and other issues to ensure the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant’s compliance with all regulatory requirements. Following the operating license issuance, FANR conducted around-the-clock inspection of all the various testing processes, including nuclear fuel loading, start-up phase, grid connection, leading to the commercial operation of the unit to generate electricity in the country.
"2020 has been another milestone year for FANR in delivering its mandate to ensure the peaceful, safe and secure use of nuclear energy and radiation sources as well as develop the sustainability of the UAE’s regulatory infrastructure according to its 2017-2021 Corporate Strategy. The year constituted a challenge nationally and internationally after the declaration by the World Health Organisation of Coronavirus (Covid-19) as a global pandemic. The UAE, thanks to the vision and wisdom of its leadership, has managed to steer safely through the situation. In addition, FANR has efficiently and diligently maintained its regulatory functions to protect the community, workers and the environment using its smart systems," said Abdulla Nasser Al Suwaidi, Chairman of FANR.
"FANR in 2020 continued the journey towards realizing its vision to be a globally recognized nuclear regulator by providing thorough oversight of the nuclear industry in the UAE. Since its establishment in 2009, FANR has set up a robust regulatory infrastructure that has procedures and processes in place that ensure we carry out our mission to protect the public and environment from radiation hazards as well as ensuring the safety, security and peaceful use of all nuclear activities in the country," said Christer Viktorsson, Director-General of FANR.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation FANR has been supportive of the UAE’s commitments towards international nuclear non-proliferation regime. Despite the pandemic, FANR ensured business continuity with respect to the correct, complete and timely submissions to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of nuclear material accounting reports, facility attachments records and additional protocol declarations. Furthermore, FANR played an important role in improving the UAE’s ranking in the Logistics Performance Index as part of the UAE 2021 National Agenda. FANR’s Nuclear Technology (NuTech) was integrated with the General Authority of Ports, Borders, & Free Zone Security (Manafth) Advance Cargo Information (ACI). There were other efforts to integrate the Nutech portal with other government entities across the UAE. The portal achieved processed over 3,000 requests and hitting 99 percent customer satisfaction.
Radiation Safety Protecting the workers, public and the environment represents the core of FANR’s mission. FANR continued its regulatory mission by carrying out some 283 inspections for medical & non-medical purposes. It also issued 1,097 licenses for medical and non-medical uses of radiation sources as well as issued 1,307 permits. FANR continued to monitor the radioactivity levels in the UAE environment, using the FANR environmental laboratory in Abu Dhabi and various monitoring stations across the UAE. More than 150 samples were collected from the air, soil, water and sediment. In addition to the laboratory analyses, more than 500,000 individual measurements of gamma dose rates were collected from a network of 17 gamma monitoring stations throughout the UAE.
In addition, FANR’s Secondary Standards Dosimetry Laboratory (SSDL) provided over 600 calibration certificates to customers from medical, industrial and nuclear sectors in the UAE. FANR also launched the smart SSDL Portal where it enables the customers to submit directly their calibration requests and to download their calibration certificates.
Nuclear Emergency Preparedness The Emergency Operation Centre of FANR is equipped with state-of-the art equipment to coordinate FANR’s response in case of any nuclear or radiological emergency. In 2020, FANR continued to strengthen its own system and capabilities to be able to response to an emergency by organising drills and taking part in other exercises in coordination with national entities and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It conducted and took part in drills nationally and internationally as well as held various training workshops.
Building Emirati Capacity in the nuclear sector FANR remains dedicated to developing Emiratis in the nuclear sector, and this forms part of its capacity building and sustainability efforts. FANR completed the Legal ‘Developee’ programme and two ‘developees’ joined the Legal Department of FANR. Moreover, 40 directors and managers took part in the first FANR’s Leadership Development Centre as part of the Leadership and Management Development Programme. It establishes a platform for FANR’s employees to become better leaders and contributors to FANR’s regulatory mission. FANR’s various capacity-building programmes contribute to an increase of number of Emiratis to reach around 68 percent and women to constitute almost 41 percent of total workforce.