Promising energy development brings wider opportunities

Future nuclear power station unfolds favourable prospects for Ostrovets, in the Grodno Region

By Mikhail Overianov

Over fifty years ago, an oil processing plant was constructed on the bank of the Zapadnaya Dvina River, turning a small town into modern Novopolotsk. Similarly, the Belarusian Automobile Works transformed simple Zhodino — now known far beyond Belarus’ borders. In the 21st century, the most northern district centre of the Grodno Region is set to become famous: Ostrovets. It may gain the status of a town this year; in a decade, it could rival significant Belarusian cities, such as Lida, Slonim and Volkovysk.

Public opinion regarding the Belarusian nuclear power station has changed dramatically, as recent polls conducted by the National Academy of Sciences’ Sociology Institute confirm. Over the past six years, the number of nuclear energy supporters has near doubled — reaching almost 60 percent. The situation in Ostrovets is especially exemplary. “When talks began, we faced a lack of understanding and even, outrage, from local residents,” recollects the Chairman of the District Executive Committee, Adam Kovalko. “Some time later, I met 24 companies’ employees; people were actually expressing their impatience, awaiting the completion of construction.”

These changes have a simple explanation: the Ostrovets District is home to about 24,000 people. Although local unemployment stands at a mere 0.6 percent, well-paid jobs are scarce. The main production base revolves around Olkhovka Cardboard Factory, the Radiodetal Plant, the Centre of Co-operative Industry, a consumer service enterprise and several other firms. Some jobs pay as much as Br3-5m per month, but rarely fall vacant.

The first Belarusian nuclear power station is yet to be built but is already a lucky ticket for the district. Russian specialists are expected to conduct its electrical work (as corresponding licences are required); meanwhile, Belarusians will be used for other tasks — including the building of the reactor. At present, about 150 people are working on the site — most from Belenergostroy company. Our contractors have the necessary experience, having previously helped build Kalininskaya nuclear power station, near Moscow.

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