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Expert: Technologies are available to safely operate nuclear power plants

21.08.2020

MINSK, 21 August (BelTA) – Technologies to enable the safe operation of nuclear power plants have been worked out, BelTA learned from Aleksandr Klepikov, Candidate of Science (Physics and Math), Deputy Director of the Nuclear Technology Safety Center (Kazakhstan).

The expert noted: “At present nuclear energy industry no longer has many problems of the period of its establishment and has developed criteria and technologies that enable reliable and economically profitable operation of nuclear power plants.”

At the same time there are two aspects that need to be addressed to make nuclear energy industry even safer for the environment and more acceptable for the general public.

The expert explained: “These matters are related to the decommissioning of the nuclear installations that are past their service life and to the recycling of radioactive waste generated in the course of operation of a nuclear power plant and as a result of the nuclear power plant's decommissioning. The available technologies are quite costly, reduce the economic effectiveness of operation, and give the public reasons to doubt the need to develop nuclear energy industry. If scientists and process managers work hard on these matters and manage to come up with solutions, nuclear energy industry has every chance of becoming one of the main sources of heat and electricity for industrially developed countries.”

In the past Kazakhstan considered the possibility of building a nuclear power plant of its own. The expert pointed out that Kazakhstan generates sufficient amounts of electricity for the manufacturing sector, agriculture, transport, utilities, and households. Most of the power plants are located in the country's north while the country's south has historically suffered from energy shortages, which were addressed by power plants of the joint Central Asia system in the USSR times. The construction of a primary source of energy in this region has been under consideration since the late 1970s. The possibility of building a nuclear power plant has been suggested three times since the 1990s. The final discussion about the possibility of building a nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan took place in 2019 but no final decision was made.

Aleksandr Klepikov explained that several reasons in favor of building a nuclear power plant had been presented. First, the country needs a new powerful primary source of energy in order to satisfy the projected domestic demand for energy in the period till 2030 taking into account the replacement of power plants, which are being decommissioned.

Apart from that, considering the availability of natural uranium in the Republic of Kazakhstan and the availability of fuel manufacturing facilities, the construction of a nuclear power plant could allow improving the use of the available fuel and energy sources, increasing the country's energy potential, developing nuclear technologies for use in various branches of the economy, and ensuring social and economic development of the territories in the area where the nuclear power plant will be located.

As for social benefits, the project's implementation will require local resources. Other branches of the national economy will be developed as well. The share of highly qualified specialists and scientists will be increased.

Municipal budgets will get their share of the benefits as part of the tax revenues for the duration of the nuclear power plant's operation. Production will rise in the region thanks to lower electricity rates. The region's investment appeal will be enhanced and the private sector will develop faster, Aleksandr Klepikov added.

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