Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC)’s and Nawah Energy Company’s (Nawah) most recent marine environmental survey off the coast of the Barakah nuclear energy plant has shown the presence of several marine species as a result of the artificial reef, created in 2014.

The results from the recent survey reveal that a diverse and abundant marine ecosystem has taken root at Barakah, including in the artificial reef built by ENEC and Nawah. The survey identified more than 63 marine species utilizing the breakwater habitats, and 35 marine species utilizing the artificial reef habitat. In the breakwaters, these marine organisms including a variety of species of algae, invertebrate species, species of fish, and one species of marine mammal.

A restriction on marine activities, particularly fishing, means that the breakwater provides a favourable habitat for priority species such as the orange-spotted grouper, locally known as the ‘hamour,’ the near-threatened Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphin, and the critically endangered Hawksbill Turtle to utilize. These at-risk species were all observed in the protected area off the coast of Barakah.

The survey uncovered the beginnings of a complex marine community at the breakwaters and artificial reef sites. Construction on the breakwaters began at Barakah in early 2011, before the development of the plant itself. The structures protect the plant cooling water intake, discharge channels, navigation channel, and wharf facilities. The breakwater structures are comprised of quarry rock and concrete and have a combined length of approximately 15 kilometres.

The artificial reef was built in partnership with the National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) and in line with guidance from the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD). Located 3.8 kilometres from the shoreline of Barakah, it is almost 6,700 square meters and built of waste-moulded concrete that offers a favourable habitat for numerous marine species.

H.E. Mohamed Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of ENEC, commented on the results of the survey: “We are consistently looking for ways to protect and enhance our natural environment. The findings of this recently conducted survey reveal that ENEC’s proactive approach to conservation and sustainability is having a positive impact. It is wonderful to hear that a variety of marine life, including endangered species have been able to settle in the waters around Barakah.”

“ENEC works closely with EAD to regularly monitor and effectively mitigate any impacts the program may have on the surrounding environment,” added Al Hammadi.

H.E. Mohammed Sahoo Al Suwaidi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nawah Energy Company confirmed that “Ensuring that we operate safely and in an environmentally conscious manner, is of paramount importance to all of us here at the Nawah Energy Company. We are making every effort to make sure that we promote clean and efficient energy inside our organisation and out. We have a responsibility to protect our environment and the world we live in. This way we can continue to develop and improve the quality life for the future generations of our nation.”

ENEC has outlined its commitment to operating in an environmentally conscious manner in its Barakah Environment and Sustainability Charter, an agreement co-signed by ENEC and its prime contractor, KEPCO. The charter sets out a series of obligations for both parties to ensure that environmental protection, habitat preservation, water and energy conservation, and sustainable waste management best-practices are consistently applied.

H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, said ‘ENEC’s development of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant is a project of long-term strategic importance to the UAE and will not only contribute to energy security for many years, but also help to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution. The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi is committed to ensuring all such projects are developed with an environmental consciousness right from the start, including planning, design and site selection. We will continue to work closely with ENEC throughout the life of the plant, as the entity mandated to protect and enhance air quality, groundwater and the biodiversity of our desert and marine ecosystem, by implementing sound policy measures.”

The construction of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant commenced in 2012 and all four nuclear reactors will be operational in 2020. At its full operational capacity, the facility will deliver up to a quarter of the UAE’s electricity needs and save up to 12 million tons in carbon emissions every year. The project as a whole is now over 66% complete.