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Personnel for Belarus’ nuclear power engineering: training, popularity, prestige


Vasily Polyukhovich
Deputy Director of the Nuclear Power Department at the Energy Ministry

Vladimir Gorin
Deputy Chief Engineer for Personnel Training at the BelNPP

Nikolai Maruda
Consultant at the Department for Higher Education at the Education Ministry

Thorough training for BelNPP personnel

Future employees of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (BelNPP) are undergoing a most thorough training, deputy chief engineer for personnel training at the BelNPP Vladimir Gorin said during the online conference hosted by the BelTA website on 28 September.

The Russian design AES-2006 with water-moderated power reactors that boast improved reliability and safety was chosen for the construction of the BelNPP. It outperforms similar foreign designs in terms of several safety indicators. For example, the Belarusian nuclear power plant will have a double containment system. The internal containment vessel will protect the environment and people from radiation, including in case of an accident, while the external vessel will protect the reactor from outer influences. “Even if the probability of an accident (an earthquake, a waterspout, an aircraft crash, etc.) is higher than once in a million years, the BelNPP will be able to withstand the negative effects of such accidents,” Vladimir Gorin stressed.

Only highly qualified specialists will have access to the plant. “The human factor cannot be overlooked. Thus, we are very careful about selecting the staff for the BelNPP,” Vladimir Gorin emphasized.

The Russian state corporation Rosatom is involved in training Belarusian specialists. Russia has developed a unique system for training nuclear industry specialists for its own needs and for other countries that are building nuclear plants using Russian projects. The system includes such world-renowned universities as the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, and the Tomsk University,” Vladimir Gorin said.

As for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), its experts took part in the preparation of the Belarusian state program for training nuclear industry specialists. Belarusian universities received a computer-based training system on the basics of NPP policies, management and technology in line with IAEA's technical assistance project aimed at the development of nuclear infrastructure and a system of personnel training in Belarus.

The agency also provides help with personnel retraining. For example, more than ten professors of Belarusian universities have already undergone advanced training.

Foreign specialists to assist with Belarusian nuclear power plant launch

Plans have been made to invite foreign specialists to launch the first power-generating unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in 2018. Vasily Polyukhovich, Deputy Director of the Nuclear Energy Department of the Belarusian Energy Ministry, made the statement during the online conference hosted by the BelTA website on 28 September.

In accordance with the IAEA guidelines personnel to man the key positions of the nuclear power plant are to be recruited two years before the power-generating unit goes online. As far as the launch of the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is concerned, it will be fully staffed, including with 69 highly qualified foreign specialists with a considerable record of operating existing nuclear power plants.

According to Vasily Polyukhovich, the key positions are the chief engineer and his or her deputies, heads of the main technological divisions and senior specialists, specialists of the training and education center, department heads and heads of the labs for nuclear and radiation safety, personnel to man the reactor division, the heat automatics and measurements division, the radiation safety division, shift foremen for the power-generating unit and the entire nuclear power plant. Well-trained Belarusian specialists will work along with the foreign specialists to accrue the relevant experience and utilize the experience for launching the second power-generating unit, noted Vasily Polyukhovich.

Vladimir Gorin, deputy chief engineer for personnel training of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, specified that for the sake of operating the central console of the first power-generating unit they intend to employ specialists with experience of manning Russian and Ukrainian nuclear power plants, with experience of launching the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China and the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is a project to build an AES-2006 type nuclear power plant 18km away from Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast. The Belarusian nuclear power plant will have two power-generating units with the total output capacity of up to 2,400MW (2x1,200MW). In line with the general contract for building the nuclear power plant the first power-generating unit is scheduled for commissioning in 2018, with the second one to go online in 2020.

Plans to open BelNPP's training center by year-end 2015

The training center of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (BelNPP) is scheduled for opening by the end of 2015, deputy chief engineer for personnel training at the BelNPP Vladimir Gorin said during the online conference hosted by the BelTA website on 28 September.

BelNPP's center will be equipped with all the necessary training simulators. It will be open to both young workers and experienced specialists.

Vladimir Gorin noted that the training center will have a full-scale nuclear power plant control room simulator. Those who work at NPP control rooms are responsible for the nuclear and radiation safety of the plant and for its stable and accident-free operation. All future BelNPP control room operators will undergo training with the help of the simulator.

“It is impossible to overestimate the importance of this simulator, as the professional skills of the operators who will be working at BelNPP's control room will depend on its use. I should say that well-trained personnel represent one of the key preconditions for safe and reliable operation of the plant,” Vladimir Gorin stressed.

In his words, the necessity to use the full-scale NPP control room simulator arises from the norms of the Belarusian and international law. Vladimir Gorin explained that this simulator is used for training nuclear power engineers around the world.

In accordance with the general contract for building the BelNPP, the training will be provided by instructors from the Russian Novovoronezh training center Atomtekhenergo. “These people have vast experience in training personnel for the nuclear power plants built using Russian projects in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Iran, India, China, Bulgaria, and Finland,” Vladimir Gorin noted.

Belarus’ joining Bologna Process to help improve training of nuclear industry specialists

Belarus’ joining the Bologna Process will help raise the quality of training of nuclear industry specialists, consultant of the higher education department at the Education Ministry Nikolai Maruda said during the online conference hosted by BelTA on 28 September.

“One of the principles of the Bologna Process is the mobility of students which helps raise the quality of education. Therefore, Belarus’ accession to the Bologna Process will help raise the quality of training of nuclear industry specialists,” Nikolai Maruda said.

The specialist reminded that the Bologna Declaration provides for the joint efforts to harmonize the systems of education in Europe. At the same time, the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is formed in compliance with the principle of retaining and harmonizing various national education systems. “The state decides to what extent and in what areas to integrate education. Certain fields, such as, for example, military training, can be excluded from the process of integration,” he explained.

BelTA reported earlier that Belarus joined the Bologna Process in May 2015.