By Yakov Vladimirov
About a decade ago, the construction of Belarus’ own nuclear power station seemed unlikely; at that time, security was the major obstacle. Today, security remains vital but all major decisions on the site have been made (close to the Belarusian district centre of Ostrovets). Not long ago, Belarusians asked the St. Petersburg Scientific-Research and Design Institute Atomenergoprom to reconstruct the conditions which resulted in the Japanese Fukushima disaster, thinking of an ‘AES-2006’ Belarusian project. The scientific answer was that no similar situation can occur in Belarus. “The station is to be built with maximum security in mind; everything has been analysed in detail,” stresses the Chief Engineer of Belarus’ Nuclear Power Plant Construction Directorate, Anatoly Bondar. “The plant will be able to withstand an earthquake of magnitude eight. After construction, Belarus is ready to undergo tests to show the readiness of equipment and personnel to deal with possible emergencies.”
Around a hundred security systems are to be in place, accounting for almost 70 percent of all costs. The Belarusian station will have more safety elements than any already built or being constructed (under the same design) in China, Kaliningrad and the Leningrad and Voronezh regions of Russia. The Fukushima tragedy has not hindered Belarusian-Russian co-operation over the plant’s construction.
Design documentation is now being prepared, to be conducted in three stages. The first envisages raising investment funds and has been completed, with Belarus’ Energy Ministry approving the document. In addition, a report on the possible influence of the future site on the environment has been adopted, with the IAEA actually approving the Ostrovets site. An architectural design, with specifications and estimates, is now being put together, overseen by specialists from the Belarusian Emergency Ministry’s Department for Nuclear and Radiation Security.
Construction is already in full swing, with basic infrastructure almost complete. A residential site for the plant’s workers is also being built. In September, digging of foundations will begin, using prefabricated subassembly technology. A special technical base is now being prepared.
The remaining issue is the signing of a contract to build the Belarusian nuclear power station and supply its infrastructure. No exact sum has been announced but specialists believe it could cost $6-7bn. Atomstroyexport JSC (part of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation) is to act as the general contractor. “Belarus hopes to sign documents soon,” explains Belarus’ Energy Minister, Alexander Ozerets. “Talks are ongoing, with a credit agreement under focus.”
Rosatom’s Head, Sergey Kirienko, has visited the Ostrovets site, praising the preparatory works. Direct construction lies ahead.