Belarus eyes first nuclear power plant in 2015

MINSK, October 27 (Itar-Tass) -- Belarus wants to develop atomic power engineering and plans to launch the first reactor in 2015 with Russian assistance, the Russian Rosenergoatom Company said on Thursday quoting Chief Engineer of Belenergo power utility Alexander Sivak.

"Permanent growth in prices for natural gas, which is the main source of electricity in Belarus, does not strengthen the economy of the state," Sivak was quoted as saying during a visit to the Russian Kalinin nuclear power plant (NPP) this week.

Belarus suffered most from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in neighboring Ukraine in 1986 and Sivak said the opinion of the residents of the territory, where the plant is planned, will be taken into consideration. However, he quoted a poll by the national Academy of Sciences as showing "there is a trend of change in the negative attitude of the people: to the construction of nuclear power plants".

Sivak admitted Belarus has no necessary scientific, technical and production capacities to build an NPP. "Therefore, we shall eye all potential suppliers of equipment, assembly and engineering services. It must be clear to everyone that priority will be given to the Russian Federation," he said.