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Fears of a possible nuclear meltdown in Japan will not prevent Turkey from going ahead with the construction of atomic power plants, the country's energy minister, Taner Yildiz, said on Monday.
"The earthquake that occurred in Japan will not affect our plans for the construction of two nuclear power plants," Yildiz said in an interview with Turkey's NTV channel. "We should learn lessons from the tragedy that Japan has faced, and we are working in this direction."
A powerful earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on Friday, causing serious damage to several reactors at the country's Fukishima Nuclear Power Plant. Two of the reactors were rocked by blasts on Saturday and Monday after their cooling systems failed as a result of the quake, and another is cause for concern over a lack of a cooling liquid.
The blasts, which destroyed the buildings housing the reactors, sparked fears of possible radiation leaks. The country's authorities maintain that there is no serious health threat as the reactors themselves, covered with steel containers, have not been affected by the blasts.
A Russian-Turkish consortium led by Russia's nuclear engineering company Atomstroyexport will build Turkey's first nuclear power plant in the Mediterranean port of Mersin in the Akkuyu area.
The second plant is designed to be constructed in the Black Sea port of Sinop. Turkey is in talks with Japanese companies Toshiba and Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO), which operates the troubled Japanese plant, on the construction of its second nuclear power plant.
Yildiz said only trouble-proof third-generation reactors will be used in the construction of Turkey's nuclear power plants, adding that the reactors at Japan's Fukushima plant were obsolete.
Several Turkish green movements called on the country's authorities on Monday to halt the planned construction of the nuclear power plants following the Japanese disaster, citing that the plants are designed to be built in seismically active areas where earthquakes of up to 7 points on the Richter scale are possible.
A Turkish delegation headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will arrive in Moscow on Tuesday for a two-day meeting with the Russian leadership. The construction of the nuclear power plant in Mersin is likely to be discussed among other issues during the talks.
Russia and Turkey signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction and operation of Turkey's first nuclear power plant during a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Ankara on May 12, 2010.
The start of the construction, estimated to cost $20 billion, is scheduled for 2013. The project stipulates the construction of four power units with a capacity of 1.2 GW each under the Russian design, using VVER pressurized water reactors.
The launch of the plant's first power unit is planned for 2018, while the other three are expected to be launched with an interval of one year. The plant's reactors are designed to operate for 60 years.
ANKARA, March 14 (RIA Novosti)
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