The physical launch of the first unit of the Astravets NPP is scheduled for January 2020, Director General of the state enterprise Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant Mikhail Filimonau told journalists on Wednesday.
“The physical launch is in the offing. It is expected to be held in January or so. Setting a definite date will be reliant on launch operations. Then it will be connected to the power grid,” the official said.
According to him, nuclear fuel for the first unit may be delivered by the end of 2019, state-run news agency BelTA reports.
In turn, Vasil Palyukhovich, Director of the Nuclear Power Engineering Department of the Belarusian Energy Ministry, stressed that the exact date of the start would depend on when nuclear fuel was delivered and inspected.
On September 24, Alexei Likhachev, Director General of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, said that the first BelNPP power unit is in ‘the highest degree of technical readiness’ (97%).
Neighbouring Lithuania has repeatedly criticized the construction of the nuclear power plant and encouraged the rest of the countries of the United Europe to not buy electricity from the would-be NPP. The Lithuanians are not only concerned about the proximity of the station to Vilnius, but also with a number of emergencies during the NPP construction.
For example, in 2017, while moving the reactor vessel for the first unit of BelNPP, workers let it slip out and touch the ground.
In July 2019, during construction work at the Astravets NPP, the 59-year-old and 23-year-old workers fell from a height as a result of a breakdown in the work of the truck tower, sustaining serious injuries.
The recent scandal surrounding the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant was connected with the Russian builders not receiving salaries for their work.
As reported earlier, the department of the Investigation Committee (IC) in Hrodna region is investigating a criminal case launched under Article 252 of the Criminal Code (commercial bribery) against the head of the ventilation and firefighting systems of the Russian company Atomstroyexport, Oleg Zinoviev. The agency notes that his poor quality work has led to the situation where the ventilation equipment, as well as the aggregates and valves to suppress fire at the station, were installed without passing the necessary control checks. According to the IC, violations may lead to ‘whole system failure’ at the Astravets nuclear power plant.