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Atom under scrutiny

First Belarusian nuclear power station to be launched in two years’ time, with station driving economic and sci-tech development, as is evident at Atomexpo-2016 international exhibition
The forum attracted dozens of high-tech enterprises and companies, from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, for the eighth time. The Deputy Prime Minister, Vladimir Semashko, stressed at the opening ceremony that the project is vital to improving our technological and scientific potential. Moreover, the advantages of the station should become even more significant once it comes into operation. Mr. Semashko said, “We are striving to achieve energy diversification beyond oil and natural gas, so it’s vital for us to look beyond these resources.”

Interactive model of the nuclear power station

As noted at the forum, the economic efficiency of nuclear energy is well known, in comparison with other sources of electricity and heating power. Worldwide, 31 countries are operating a total of 444 nuclear energy reactors, while another 64 are being built. A further 30 states are preparing to launch nuclear energy, with Belarus among them.

Of course, nuclear power station safety is imperative, as those Belarusians who have suffered from the Chernobyl disaster are only too aware. Belarus is strictly following all International Atomic Energy Agency recommendations. IAEA General Director Yukiya Amano, speaking at the opening ceremony, has praised construction at the Belarusian nuclear power station, calling it one of the most successful projects. He has promised to render all possible aid on behalf of the Agency, adding, “There’s no need to remind everyone that nuclear energy safety is a priority for us. Over the past five years, safety records have risen, but we remain vigilant. Measures to enhance security must never stop.”

Atomexpo-2016 has given much food for thought, as Professor Rafael Arutyunyan, the Deputy Director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Problems of Nuclear Energy Safe Development, asserts. He notes that, after the Chernobyl disaster, Russia focused on creating its own nuclear reactors, to ensure safety, although the move raised costs by 40-50 percent. However, there has been increased interest in Russian nuclear energy worldwide.

Participants of the show explained in detail how safety is achieved, with the Moscow Specialised Scientific-Research Institute of Tool Making (which boasts 65 years of experience) demonstrating systems and equipment for radiation control at the Belarusian station. Many thousands of sensors are to be installed at the reactor, as well as across the station’s territory, and within 30km, to monitor any deviation from normal radiation levels. All necessary response measures would be taken immediately in cases of emergency.

Mr. Amano has toured the Belarusian station site. Vladimir Gorin, the Deputy Chief Engineer for Personnel Training, has explained that most equipment for the first reactor has been supplied, ready for assembly in late May. All works are ‘to schedule’. Mr. Amano stresses, “Belarus-IAEA co-operation is developing intensively, with Belarus having already invited experts from the Agency to survey the nuclear station, to allow them to be convinced that everything is progressing as it should. Belarus’ invitation indicates that our country is liaising with the global nuclear community. Belarus is a valuable partner for the IAEA.”

By 2018, another seven expert missions will have visited Belarus. The recent delegation has made its examination of all elements of nuclear infrastructure and, in October, another will arrive to study the energy market regulator, looking at its independence in terms of decision-making.

IAEA experts will also investigate the state and level of the station’s safety. Mr. Amano has promised to attend the first reactor’s launch with his wife, to inspect the site and to enjoy Belarusian national cuisine.

By Alexander Pimenov
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