Minatom backs Canadian NPP for Russian Far East

Igor Kudrik
1998-11-30 12:00

Duma criticism against new nuclear plant:
Minatom backs Canadian NPP for Russian Far East

Plans to build a Canadian nuclear power plant in the Russian Far East, announced by Minatom last year, have received strong criticism in the Duma.

During the Russian-Canadian meeting in Moscow in the second part of October 1997, a preliminary agreement was reached, according to which Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AEC) will deliver the nuclear facilities for a new power plant. The plant is to be situated in Primorsky Krai in the Russian Far East, and the Russian contribution will be to mantle the equipment and to erect the plant’s building. The total cost of the project is some 1.2-2 billion USD. The plant will host two reactor units, each at 600 MW power output, and the construction should take some 4 or 5 years.

The plans have received backing from Jevgeny Adamov, the Russian nuclear minister who came to power in early 1998. High-ranking officials of the Ministry for Atomic Energy of Russia (Minatom) said exports of energy to neighbouring China could finance the project. In addition, the issue of North Korean nuclear objects could be removed from the agenda, given Russia’s energy exports to this country as well.

The project, however, has not received backing from the administration of Primorsky Krai, nor from the Russian State Duma. Upon being informed about the project, the local administration started discussing how to dissuade the federal government from proceeding with it.

The Russian State Duma became active in this question in late November this year, calling the nuclear minister in to a Duma session to report on the project. Duma members were sceptical towards the fact that Minatom has preferred a foreign contractor rather than domestic companies. In addition, criticism was raised in respect to the nuclear fuel to be used at the plant, as domestic nuclear fuel manufacturers feared loosing markets to foreign competitors.

When reporting to the Duma, Adamov said no contract had been signed with Canada so far, but he hoped it would be done shortly. This statement received criticism from the Duma. No final conclusion has been made, but Adamov will be called in for further clarifications in the Duma on 18 December this year.

The need – or lack thereof – for a nuclear power plant in Primorsky Krai has been a matter of discussion since 1995, although no practical steps have been taken so far.

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