Moving towards safe nuclear power engineering development

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visits Belarus

By Dmitry Krotov

Preliminary works are near completion at the construction site near Ostrovets, with final infrastructure for Belarus’ first nuclear power station being finished. The schedule is being strictly adhered to, while international consultations on the project are continuing — with neighbours and on a wider scale.

Any country’s decision to build a nuclear power station is, undoubtedly, its own internal business. However, Belarus is also joining a ‘club’ of countries using nuclear power, which makes the project global, bringing attention from the whole world.
Naturally, the International Atomic Energy Agency is keen to follow Belarus’ plans. In fact, our country is one of the founders of the organisation, which currently unites 153 states. We have experience of liaising with the IAEA in connection with Chernobyl problems but, of course, this is a new context.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s visit to Belarus ended with meeting President Lukashenko. On warmly welcoming his guest, the Belarusian leader noted, “I’m very concerned to see nuclear energy in use, as it is the most secure and the safest way to generate cheap energy — as needed worldwide.”

Recent events in the guest’s homeland have, unfortunately, undermined trust in nuclear power, as Mr. Lukashenko noted sincerely, recalling the reaction of some states towards the disaster at the Japanese Fukushima station. Several have curtailed or ceased their nuclear programmes but many are still eager to develop the area further. According to Mr. Lukashenko, Belarus is among them. He stressed, “During this period, we firmly and unanimously declare that we won’t just declare our intention to construct a nuclear power station; we’ve already begun.”

The project has special importance, being implemented in the country which has most suffered from Chernobyl. However, progress must march on. Today, plans to construct the Belarusian station are supported by most of the Belarusian population: an important sign.

“I believe that the IAEA organisation is extremely interested in similar secure projects being realised worldwide. Accordingly, we hope that Mr. Amano, like previous heads of this agency, will provide us with serious moral assistance in the construction of our nuclear power station. If we have this, with support and corresponding conditions, we’ll even be ready to construct a second nuclear station in Belarus,” added Mr. Lukashenko.

Later, speaking to journalists, Mr. Amano responded to the President’s words by saying, “The IAEA doesn’t dictate how many nuclear power stations should exist in any country. Each state chooses independently, deciding whether to construct a nuclear power station. However, if a country does build a nuclear power station, it should be done in the most secure way. In this context, the IAEA can provide its services.”

In a conversation with the President, Mr. Amano named Belarus as a very important partner. Although the Chernobyl experience is negative, it provides an extremely valuable lesson to the world’s nuclear energy industry and has been useful in solving the current problems following the Fukushima disaster. Of course, we must learn from the past. The guest mused, “Each country needs to develop its power engineering while improving the quality of life for its population. In this respect, the decision to use nuclear energy is vital.”

Mr. Amano believes it’s very important that Belarus takes responsibility for ensuring a higher level of security and transparency for its project. He stresses that each nation must bear responsibility for meeting nuclear safety laws. However, the IAEA can help in this respect; an IAEA integrated mission is to be sent to Belarus to assess infrastructure for the nuclear power station. Mr. Amano explains, “In sending the mission and organising meetings, we’ll be able to see that nuclear power engineering is being used safely by the country. We wish to observe the protection of nuclear sites long-term.”
Such co-operation coincides with the expectations of Belarus.

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