MINSK, June 22 (RIA Novosti)
Belarus will sign a master contract with Russia to construct the first nuclear power plant in the country in July, First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said on Friday.
"Discussions about a master contract to build the nuclear power plant in Belarus have almost completed and it will be signed in early July," Semashko told the Belarusian parliament.
The head of Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, said in May that Moscow would invest $204 million at an early stage in the plant's construction.
The $10-billion plant will be built by Russia’s Atomstroyexport company, a Rosatom subsidiary. The plant will consist of two reactors with a capacity of 1,200 MW each and will boost the entire Belarusian energy system's capacity to 8,000 MW. The power station’s first unit is due to be ready in 2017 and the second in 2018.
Belarus began preparing to build a nuclear plant back in the 1980s, but the project was shelved following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in neighboring Ukraine.
Belarusian opposition and environmental activists have raised concerns over the project, which were further fuelled by the March 2011 accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station.
Russia says it employs advanced technology to ensure accident-free operations at all the power stations it builds.
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