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Belarusian Physicists Urge Authorities To Abandon Nuclear Plans
Belarusian Physicists Urge Authorities To Abandon Nuclear Plans
By Natalia Korotkaya
Belorusskie Novosty
A group of Belarusian nuclear physicists has urged the authorities to abandon their plans for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the country.
"The idea of building a nuclear power plant in Belarus could bring about much trouble and hard ordeals that the authorities seem to be ready to put on the shoulders of the people," Yegor Fedushkin, head of the Institute of Humanitarian and Environmental Technologies under the Minsk-based International Academy of Information Technology, said at a meeting that the group held on Sunday. "Under no circumstances, we will agree that it is feasible to build the plant in Belarus."
The scientist said that the nuclear case was not an "unavoidable necessity" for the country, pointing to the absence of economic and technical conditions for the construction. "Since the dispute about whether or not a nuclear power plant should be built began, nobody has ever offered any distinct data in favor of the nuclear power industry," Yegor Fedushkin said.
"Now that increasingly more nations around the world are pushing for their countries to adopt a non-nuclear status, we, representatives of science and intelligentsia, cannot stand aside," he said.
The group, which includes people who worked at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, wants the government to hold a large-scale meeting to discuss the nuclear plans, and, if the plans are approved, to call a referendum on the matter.
It also wants to set up an association that would struggle to "protect the people of Belarus from Chernobyl Hell and Nuclear Eden."
Yegor Fedushkin said that the country needs an institute of alternative sources of energy that would explore the possibilities of micro-energy, and renewable sources of energy. “If there is ever a need to build a NNP, there should be a national referendum on this matter,” stated Yegor Fedushkin.
Moreover, Belarusian scholars also proposed to form a commission to look into viabilities of using nuclear energy in the country. Professor Georgy Lepin said that a similar commission was formed by the Prime Minister in 1998. He also said that it was to “analyse and evaluate information about the world trends in nuclear energy in relation to Belarus, and to examine alternative ways to supply the Republic with energy resources, ensure their rational consumption, and implement modern steam-gas technologies and unconventional sources of energy”.
One of the important decisions, in the scholar’s mind, that the commission managed to pass was to postpone the work with nuclear energy in Belarus for 10 years. The moratorium expires on 1 January 2009, so, in Georgy Lepin’s opinion, “it would make sense” to form another commission “to examine the work done in this area during the past 10 years”.
For instance, the previous commission issued a conclusion saying that experience with nuclear energy around the world is to be taken into account. “Some NPP advocates say that NPPs are being actively built around the world. However, the history of nuclear energy around the world says the opposite – the construction of nuclear power plants was suspended in all countries apart from developing countries that strive for atomic weapon.”
He also said that the number of working NPPs in Germany went down from 20 to 17. “The USA has not built any NPPs since 1978 – they are only trying to extend their life-time from 30 to 50 years. France, with the biggest NPPs density decided to build new NPPs only when old ones get shut down,” said Georgy Lepin.
The issue of radioactive waste and its storage has not been examined properly either. “There is not any experience available in this area, and there are not any technologies,” pointed out the scholar. He said that if 10 years ago the shutting down of a NPP would cost 10% of its value, now it is comparable to the cost of the plant itself.
In Georgy Lepin’s opinion, nobody has even made any calculations about how much nuclear power units will cost for the Belarusian energy system.
Scholars are also concerned about a possibility that once nuclear energy is given a go-ahead, other parts of the energy industry will be getting less care. This was the opinion expressed by Victor Yushko, PhD in Engineering, the Chief Technician at BelNIPIenergoprom.
In his opinion, building a NPP in Belarus is “a decaying policy”. “We will launch a nuclear power plant in 2020. It will not be functioning properly as nuclear fuel will be running low around the world. We will have used all the resources for this NPP so other areas in the energy industry will be underdeveloped. The country’s economy and energy system will be crumbling down,” noted Victor Yushko.
He reckons that “cheap nuclear energy is a myth”. “These statement were made in the late 1990s – early 2000s. However, nuclear fuel has gone up in price by 21 times during the past 7 years. Gas has gone up only by three times,” pointed out the scholar. Therefore, electric power produced at NPPs is getting more expensive every year. He said that the real cost of nuclear power is five times more than a conventional power plant could produce.
The scholar referred to the details from the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences that “exploiting nuclear energy by means of a heat neutron reactor has no future”. “According to their research, NPPs will be lacking fuel by 50% in 2020-2025. There will not be any fuel in 2050 as natural uranium deposits are limited and will have been used up by that time,” he said.
Victor Yushko pointed out that from a scientific and practical point of view, it is making more sense to invest available resources “in more promising areas” for instance in wind energy. He said that the ‘Alternative sources of energy’ program that he developed makes provision for nuclear power to be totally substituted with alternative sources of energy.
The government wants to put the first unit of the 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in operation in 2016 and start the second one in 2018.
The plant, estimated by government officials at $4 billion, is expected to be located in the Mogilev region. It would generate some 15 percent of the country's energy demand. 14 Марта, 2008
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