June 27, 2008

Russian TV Shows New Nuclear Power Plant Being Built Near Voronezh

Text of report by international stream of Gazprom-owned Russian NTV on 24 June

[Presenter 1] Today all southern Russia is discussing the construction started in the Voronezh Region. Forty-five kilometres from the region's capital, on the bank of the [River] Don, the foundation of Novovoronezh nuclear power station No 2 has been laid. Nuclear power station No 1 has existed for 50 years already and its power-generating units are antiquated.

[Presenter 2] The new plant will gradually replace them, about which they only speak in the superlative: the most modern, the most powerful, the safest, there is no equivalent in Russia or Europe. Olga Chernova has also tried to reassure local residents.

[Chernova, over footage of men at work on a building site] There are thousands of workers and hundreds of equipment units here. A giant foundation pit has already been dug. In Novovoronezh, they are beginning to build the first new design nuclear plant in the country.

All of the anxieties and dreams of Novovoronezh power engineers and the regional authorities are today connected with this construction, one of the largest in Russia. The amount of financing is R130bn. The Voronezh Region governor did not hide that they were afraid that they would not find those who are capable of building a high-quality nuclear power station.

[Vladimir Kulakov, Voronezh Region governor] I did not believe that we would be able to begin to build something here as we had made such a mess of the construction industry.

[Chernova, over footage of concrete being poured and shovelled into the foundations] For the time being, the authorities do not have doubts about the builders; they are saying "everything's on time". The atomic scientists approached the pouring of the first concrete for the reactor's foundation creatively. The high-quality concrete was poured in as the Novovoronezh power engineers' anthem played.

Officials helped by hand. A three-metre thick concrete slab will appear here. It is one of the most important demands of the safety system. Specialists confirm that the new generation nuclear power station is three times safer than its functioning counterparts.

[Vladimir Generalov, general director of federal state unitary enterprise Atomenergoproekt] What we have begun to do here will be about 20 per cent more powerful and will be in service for twice as long.

[Chernova, over footage of the existing Novovoronezh nuclear power plant] The well-known Novovornezh nuclear power plant is today affectionately called a pensioner. Out of its five power-generating units, two have already exhausted their resources and, according to specialists' evaluations, if a new plant is not ready in time, residents of southern Russia will face an electric power deficit.

[Generalov] It only remains now to build it.

[Kulakov] We will build it without fail. Now we will definitely build it.

[Chernova] In the villages located within the nuclear power station's 30 km zone, they are following the new construction. The main interest is jobs; specialists are already now being recruited for nuclear power station No 2. In total, 900 people will be working there.

[Unnamed female resident] Perhaps there will be work at least. Otherwise, we will take the brunt again.

[Chernova] Most of the villagers are bothered by the question, "What benefit will the construction of the powerful plant bring them?"

[Unnamed female residents] We are paying for electricity as we used to pay, quite a lot, like everyone else, although we are in the 30 km zone.

[Chernova] There are radiation control monitors in every community, but the background radiation gauges at a normal level do not reassure people all the same.

[Unnamed male resident] Many people are ill, perhaps it is because of the power plant. Who knows?

[Chernova] Specialists assure us that the new power-generating units are more environmentally friendly and emissions are ruled out.

[Viktor Vagner, head engineer of Novovoronezh nuclear power station No 2] All modern technologies are, of course, relatively dangerous if the rules are not adhered to.

[Chernova] Are you yourself not afraid of working at a nuclear power station?

[Vagner] No, all of my life I've been working at a nuclear plant. I'm not afraid.

[Chernova] The 21st century power-generating unit will already begin to work in four year's time and a year later another will be activated. It is predicted that they will supply electricity without fail for 60 years to southern Russia's largest cities. [C/r 15:1708- 2014]

Originally published by NTV Mir, Moscow, in Russian 1500 24 Jun 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.