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Belarus / IAEA Says Country Is Close To Completing Infrastructure For Operation Of First Nuclear Plant

By David Dalton
4 March 2020

Unit 1 is scheduled to begin commercial operation this year
IAEA Says Country Is Close To Completing Infrastructure For Operation Of First Nuclear Plant
The Belarusian nuclear power station, where Unit 1 is nearing completion. Photo courtesy Rosatom.
Belarus is close to completing the required nuclear power infrastructure for beginning operation of its first nuclear power plant, but needs to improve the legal and regulatory framework to ensure a stable and predictable environment for the programme, an International Atomic Energy Agency team said.

The agency’s Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) team, which today completed a 12-day mission to Belarus to review its infrastructure development for a nuclear power programme, also said Belarus needs to improve “institutional arrangements” and finalise remaining arrangements needed for the sustainable operation of the facility.

The team also identified good practices including the use of independent peer reviews, cooperation with regulators from other countries, engagement with international stakeholders and emergency preparedness.

The review was carried out at the invitation of the government of Belarus, the IAEA said. The team reviewed the status of 19 nuclear infrastructure issues. An earlier mission too place in 2012.

Belarus, seeking to diversify its energy production with a reliable low-carbon source, is building its first nuclear power station at the Ostrovets site, about 130 km northwest of the capital Minsk near the border with Lithuania. Russia is constructing and commissioning two VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors at the site and expects the first unit to be connected to the grid this year.

Before the latest mission, Belarus prepared a self-evaluation report covering all infrastructure issues and submitted the report and supporting documents to the IAEA.

Mikhail Mikhadyuk, deputy minister of energy of Belarus, said hosting the INIR mission demonstrated the country’s transparency and genuine interest to receive an objective professional assessment of the readiness of its nuclear power infrastructure for the commissioning of the country’s first nuclear power plant.

In September Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom said cold hydraulic testing had been completed on the primary circuit of the Belarusian-1 unit.

Press reports in Belarus have said the first unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation this year, with the second in 2021.

Construction of Unit 1 began in November 2013 and of Unit 2 in April 2014.

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