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Belarusian nuclear power plant personnel ready to launch first unit

Mikhail Mikhadyuk. An archive photo

MINSK, 13 March (BelTA) – Personnel of the Belarusian nuclear power plant are ready for launching the power plant's first unit, BelTA learned from Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadyuk.

The official said: “The personnel have been prepared for the first unit. All the nuclear power plant specialists, who were required to get special permits from the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry (Gosatomnadzor) by law, have already passed their exams and have received these permits.”

As for the second unit, specialists have been recruited to fill in key positions and are being trained. “Those, who have been trained, are borrowed to work on the first unit. People to fill in positions that require shorter training will be hired later,” the deputy energy minister explained. “Candidates for these positions have already been selected. We are working proactively in this regard.”

Mikhail Mikhadyuk reminded that simultaneously with the decision to build a nuclear power plant the Belarusian government worked out a program on training personnel for the nuclear energy industry.

“We are one of the few countries that have commissioned an education and training center with a full-scale equipment simulator several years before commissioning the nuclear power plant. Personnel use the simulator to get ready to operate the Belarusian nuclear power plant,” he explained.

“On the whole, I have to say there are no problems with personnel for the nuclear power plant at present,” the deputy energy minister concluded.

Speaking about the current state of work at the Belarusian nuclear power plant construction site, Mikhail Mikhadyuk specified that over 97% of the necessary construction and installation work had been done at the first unit and over 70% at the second unit. The first unit is going through prelaunch procedures. “The process of individual startup and commissioning is over. Integrated testing is in progress – the stage of hot trials, during which the reactor unit operates at nominal parameters and undergoes a series of tests. After this stage the equipment will be examined. The physical launch will happen after that,” the deputy energy minister said. As far as generic construction operations are concerned, the first unit needs painting and finishing work in indoor premises. Beautification also needs to be done.

Virtually all the installations and structures of the second unit have been built. “Equipment is being installed in the machinery room. The primary equipment of the reactor unit has been installed. We are getting ready to supply power for technical needs. I think we will do it within one month,” he added.

The press service of the Belarusian Energy Ministry told BelTA that four Belarusian universities train specialists for the nuclear industry. They are now training over 500 students for the relevant professions. Since 2013 over 800 specialists have been trained and assigned jobs as part of the government program, with 350 young specialists employed at the Belarusian nuclear power plant.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built near Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast using a Russian design featuring two VVER-1200 reactors with the total output capacity of 2,400MW. Rosatom's engineering division – ASE Company – is the general contractor. The first unit is supposed to go online in 2020, with the second one scheduled for launch in 2021.