The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) welcomed WANO’s top executives for a January tour of its head office and nuclear power plants in what it hopes will be the first of many visits.
“PAEC has such a rich history with WANO, but has felt somewhat isolated from the nuclear community for many years now”, said WANO Managing Director Ken Ellis, who joined Chairman Jacques Regaldo on a tour of the Chashma and Karachi nuclear complexes.
“By hosting us so graciously and securely, they demonstrated their desire to end that sense of isolation and to welcome their WANO peers from other parts of the world”.
Political and security concerns within Pakistan have made it difficult for WANO to organise technical support missions or peer reviews in recent years. Pakistan remains on many nations’ travel advisory lists and is not part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which largely excludes it from trade in nuclear parts or materials.
Despite these challenges, PAEC Chairman Ansar Parvez and Member (Power) Saeed Alam Siddiqi are eager to share their operating experience with other WANO members and to host technical experts from around the world to support their pursuit of excellence.
PAEC is responsible for all nuclear energy and research applications in Pakistan, which currently receives more than 4% of its electricity from Kanupp Unit 1 and Chasnupp units 1 and 2. That level will rise dramatically with two more Chasnupp units expected to be online within five years and PAEC viewing various sites for building additional reactors.
PAEC is one of the founding members of WANO and has been generating nuclear energy since 1971, when the 125 MWe (net) Kanupp Unit 1 came online. Kanupp Unit 1 and Chasnupp units 1 to 4 have been receiving technical support from China in recent years.
“That support is greatly appreciated, but Mr Siddiqi has a very open attitude and he recognises there are many areas where they could use the wider support of WANO,” said Regaldo, who praised the openness of his Pakistani hosts and their robust security measures.
Ellis was also impressed with the security precautions PAEC put in place for their visit.
“It was important to see first-hand what they had in place”, he said. “I was very impressed and have great confidence that others can follow us safely into Pakistan to carry out the WANO mission”.