A May 2016 accident at the Barakah Nuclear Power Plant that resulted in two fatalities was caused by gaps in construction workers’ skills and knowledge.
This was the conclusion that Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), the main contractor of the plant, reached after conducting a thorough analysis of the incident.
Mohammed Al Hammadi, chief executive officer of ENEC, said that the two companies brought in international experts to fully understand the root cause of the accident and prevent it from happening again.
“Yes, we had fatalities […], and we are very sorry for that," he said.
"The accident was very unfortunate. We [stopped] the work completely for a time to make sure that such a thing doesn’t happen again because it is completely unacceptable.
“We did a lot of comprehensive analysis with [Kepco]. We brought in the best international experts in the field, and we discovered that the skills of labourers, their knowledge and expertise, sometimes have gaps.
"So we did a very comprehensive training programme for the labourers and construction workers."
Discipline, Al Hammadi stressed, should “never be compromised when it comes to safety”.
He pointed out that ENEC and Kepco have strengthened the implementation and enforcement of safety standards at the plant site, and reinforced the training given to workers to make sure that they don’t “compromise” or “cut corners”.
According to ENEC’s report on the accident, a 41-tonne crane with an attached man basket tipped over on 12 May, 2016, while window flashing installation work was being carried out on a support building at the plant site.
The report elaborated: “During the task, the crane operator took the decision, against Barakah NPP HSE policies and procedures, to extend the crane boom beyond the safety design [instructions] to change the working position.
“This action caused the working radius of the crane to exceed the safety parameters, causing the crane to tip over and the crane boom to crash […] into the collapsed man basket, [severely injuring] two workers attending [to] the installation work.”
The Barakah plant consists of four nuclear reactors housed in four separate units and is the world's largest single nuclear energy new-build project. It is expected to be fully operational by 2020.