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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Belarusian nuclear plant: gettin' organised

Belarusian nuclear power plant project is getting officially organised. On the 12 of November, the president of Belarus Alexandr Lukashenko has signed a decree officially announcing nuclear power plant construction plan.
Decree 565, 'On Certain Measures Relating to the Construction of a Nuclear Power Plant' defines the major players in the game. All organisational work at place will be made by domestic state-owned organisations, such as United Power & Nuclear Research Institute Sosny of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Belnipienerogoprom and others. Those structures are to be in direct contact with construction performing company - which is not yet made a decision upon.
Correspondents of European Radio for Belarus have studied the issue and found out that there will actually be no competition - only one type of reactor can be suitable for Belarusian weak electricity network, the one of Russian construction.
Belarusians were interested in a nuclear reactor of VBER-300 type. Designers
call it their “fad”. But, this is an experimental project, so far. No reactor of
this type is operational, yet.

“This reactor does not exist yet,
but it has been promoted actively. This is a new project which has drawn
interests from Belarus and Kazakhstan. The number of 300 means output. It is
rather little and local. The Russian energy system works on the basis of
VBER-1000 reactors. According to the Belarusian delegation, your energy networks
are not sufficiently powerful. Therefore, reactors with the output of 1000 or
1500, proposed by France, are too powerful for you,” Zaglyadnov said.

Full text of this article can be found here.
Currently it looks most likely that the plant will be built by a Russian company - several experts say it's 99% probability. Although Belarusian officials continuously make statements saying that it's not desided yet, moreover, even if the Russians will construct our reactor, that does not mean that Belarus will be dependent on Russia when it comes to nuclear fues support. French Areva group is mentioned again among one of the alternative suppliers. Here is a report on statement by Academician Aliaksandr Mikhalevich of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.
Still, althought the topic is widely discussed, many things still look unclear, for example, the placement of the power plant is not yet desided, to be done in 2008. At present the officials speak about 2 possible places, one of them in Krasnopolje, Mogilev region, where geologists have already studied the ground base.
Letting the public know what's going on does not seem to be the priority for Belarusian authorities. Still noone says what shall be done with nuclear waste which will for sure remain when the plant is operating. Also, a Ukrainian company is assigned responsible for security control and consulting as an independent third part. This fact makes the project even more international. Considering all the existing political and economic contradictions between all possible parties in the project - who can judge whether it becomes a successful example of cooperation, or just something that will never start, for some reasons like financial lack etc.
Time will show. One thing is clear - Belarus has made a decision to become nuclear. Even now it is estimated that electricity costs by year 2020 will be decreased 15-20% fromwhat the Belarusian consumer pays nowadays.

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