MINSK, April 01. /ITAR-TASS/. A majority of Belarusian citizens support the construction of a new nuclear power plant in the republic, despite the fact that much of Belarus was subjected to radioactive contamination as a result of the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the 1980s, an environmentalist told ITAR-TASS on Tuesday.
"Despite considerable radioactive contamination that hit a large part of Belarus, the bulk of the population has a positive opinion of the project to build the first nuclear power plant in the republic," chairman of the Ecological Initiative public association Yuri Solovyov told ITAR-TASS.
The cost of electricity has considerable significance for the Belarusian population. A nuclear power plant will provide cheap power; it is expected to slash utility services' bills by three times, he went on.
For his part, senior researcher at the "Sosny" Unified Energy and Nuclear Research Institute under the Belarusian Academy of Sciences Viktor Dashkevich said the project belonged to the new generation 3+ which envisioned a wealth of active and passive security systems. "These systems give confidence that even in case of serious accidents, radioactive substances will be contained on NPP premises," he said.
Among such systems are "molten core catcher" and passive hydrogen absorption, the latest developments by Russia's Rosatom agency.
"The location of the Belarusian nuclear power plant has a very low natural radiation level," Dashkevich said. "The task of modern environmentalists is to secure the monitoring on the NPP premises during the whole period of the plant's operation, which would help maintain the level which this area has at the present time."
The Belarusian NPP is being built to a Russian design in the village of Ostrovets, Grodno region. It will have two 2.4 megawatt reactors. Last November, work commenced to make the foundation of the first reactor.
The first reactor is due to go on line in 2018 and the second in 2020. Russia's Atomstroiexport is the general contractor. The project is funded by Russia's export loan worth up to $10 billion. In 2014, 8 billion Russian roubles are expected to be disbursed within the project.