Can the new Russo-Turkish nuclear power plant to be a model of safe energy? Or she will create a threat of nuclear proliferation and the threat to the environment?
Eve Conant (Eve Conant)
Last fall, a group of Turkish students came to the woods surrounded by "science city" Obninsk, located a hundred kilometers from Moscow. Previously, it was a secret city where Stalin conducted a nuclear program. These students, whose training financed by the Russian nuclear industry, were the first among the 600 Turks, who in the coming years will be to study in Russia in small groups as part of a six and a half years of the program of learning Russian, nuclear energy and engineering. This program will help Turkey to join the international nuclear club.
I talked with some of the students at tea with strudel in a quiet cafe Obninsk. They gladly agreed to practice their English after months of intensive study Russian. The students talked about how they miss family, but also about what awaits them an enviable career in the nuclear industry. Russian claim that more than 9,000 Turkish students with the mathematical and physical faculties competed for the first of these scholarships. Studying in Russia and diploma guarantee operation at one of the four Russian-built reactors, which should begin in the next year to build on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Faced with the prospect of a solid career and a good salary, students are willing to put up with cold winters and long evenings on Skype.
"Maybe we will be the first band to open the gates of the first in our country a nuclear power plant. Our country is counting on us, "- says the 21-year-old Gokchehan Tosun (Gokcehan Tosun) came from the Black Sea port of Samsun.
For the ardent supporters of the peaceful atom, such as it is, the wait was long. Turkey is interested in the nuclear power industry since 1955, when President Dwight Eisenhower signed her agreement on cooperation in the framework of the "Atoms for Peace". This is a program for the provision of equipment and technology for peaceful and transparent use of nuclear energy, which has helped in the construction of the first reactors in Pakistan and Iran. At the time, Turkey was one of the many countries seeking to harness the energy of the atom. But although a feasibility study for the construction of commercial reactors was held back in 1960, no further action followed. The reasons were many: the failure of the government to provide a guarantee of funding, Chernobyl syndrome, as well as a powerful earthquake in Turkey in 1999, which demonstrated how far removed from the present practice of building in the country.
But in 2007, a new law, making it easier to overcome numerous bureaucratic obstacles were made innovative financing agreement with Russian state corporation "Rosatom", and it is hoped that soon the Mediterranean coast at the site "Akkuyu", which is its first license received in 1976, will be the first Turkish reactors.
Suppliers of equipment for nuclear power plants in Japan, South Korea, China and Canada were also trying to make deals in the new market of Turkey. But Russia in the queue was the first, offering an unusual and aggressive marketing plan that she hopes to be extended to other "newbies" of nuclear power, as Rosatom likes to call coming into the industry of the country — such as Turkey. It is a model BOO (build-own-operate, build-own-operate). In short, this model looks like. Built as part of the reactors are located abroad (in this case in Turkey), but Russia will own them. Model of "build-own-operate" is used in other industries around the world, such as in water treatment and telecommunications, but the Russian-Turkish deal on nuclear power plant "Akkuyu" was the first case in which this scheme has been applied in the nuclear industry.
"In our country there is no nuclear power plant — said in June in Istanbul, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz (Taner Yildiz), speaking at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East, North Africa and Eurasia. — And we are determined to have around the year 2023 nuclear power plants, at least — with 23 power units. " The goal is an ambitious, especially given the inevitable in this case, long talks and long lasting construction. It is expected that the first four units will be commissioned no earlier than 2019. "We need 10 to 15 years to build a nuclear power plant from the beginning to the end", — the director and senior fellow of the program for the prevention of nuclear proliferation from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Squassoni Sharon (Sharon Squassoni ). Her prognosis? "By 2023 they will have two nuclear power plants."
Turkey has every reason to seek new sources of energy. With the rapidly increasing need of energy and population (in electricity demand in the past decade, there have grown by an average of 8% annually), Turkey found itself in a situation where it has to import more than 70% of the energy consumed in the country, mainly fossil fuels. As part of an ambitious plan of privatization and liberalization of its energy market to the Turkish government in 2023 (then it will be celebrating the centenary of the Republic of Turkey) intends to reduce gas imports and to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix to 30, and atomic energy — up to 10%. If this goal is achieved, Turkey could become "one of the most profitable and active nuclear markets in the world." This is stated in a comprehensive report on the country's transition to nuclear energy, which amounted to Istanbul Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM).
Turkey is also concerned about dependence on fossil fuels supplied by neighboring countries such as Iran and (ironically) Russia, which in 2009 became famous for shut off the flow of gas through Ukraine because of a pricing dispute, which is why Turkey and much of the Europe were forced into the middle of winter freeze for several weeks.
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But many Turks are deeply concerned about the nuclear ambitions of the state. There are many protests, particularly intensified after the disaster at the nuclear power plant "Fukushima". Most of all alarmed residents adjacent to the project site area. It is located in the Turkish province of Mersin, and is a tourist area, located on the Mediterranean coast. Local people feared that the region would lose its appeal because of what people will be forced to go from there. "This is a tourist place, and if there is to build a nuclear power plant, the region could lose a significant portion of its revenue from tourism," — said Necdet Pamir (Necdet Pamir), who heads the Energy Commission of the opposition Republican People's Party, which opposes the project because she was concerned about safety issues . She tried to block the project in the Constitutional Court of Turkey, but failed. Concerns expressed and neighboring countries. Fearing the possibility of a crash near its borders, Greece and Cyprus calls on the EU to carefully study the project.
Also raises serious concerns about the risk associated with earthquakes. In 1998, an earthquake of 6.2 magnitude occurred in Adana, which is 180 kilometers from the Gulf of Akkuyu. Then, killing 150 people, and the total damage was estimated one billion dollars. "Akkuyu is a dangerous place, located just 20-25 kilometers from the active
fault zone, and the building permit was issued before it was announced," — says the Pamirs. "In addition, Turkey has a more secure their own energy resources", — he said, adding that they may well be used instead of nuclear fuel. This is the "clean coal", hydropower, solar and wind energy. All of these sources in a seismically active country is not nearly as dangerous as nuclear power. (Turkish leaders claim that in the areas surveyed for the NPP, the low level of seismic hazard, and that the site "Akkuyu" can withstand tremors of magnitude 9 points.)
Lack of experience in the field of nuclear energy also raises questions. "It is unclear whether the Turkish regulatory agency to oversee the Russian were building Russian nuclear power plant and operating it in Turkey," — said the deputy director of the Energy Security Initiative (Energy Security Initiative) of the Brookings Institution Kevin Massey (Kevin Massy). He traveled to Turkey this year to explore its energy plans, and this week issued its report on the results of the research. Regulators under the Ministry of Energy, which promotes the project. This is the concern of the former Turkish diplomat and chairman of the Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies Sinan Ulgen (Sinan Ulgen). "The complete independence of the regulatory authorities nuclear industry is central to achieving a safe transition to nuclear power — he says. — Many accidents including Fukushima, show that this is a key component of the safety of nuclear power plants. "
In connection with the transfer of nuclear technology and the supply of equipment for nuclear power plants is also a problem of distribution. As noted by blogger Dan Yurman (Dan Yurman) of the American Society of Nuclear Energy in the contract for the construction of "Akkuyu" Turkey managed to bypass the most difficult moments of the fuel cycle, which are associated with the spread and the bomb. "Keep in mind that Russian Turkey will not create enrichment and reprocessing. If they do the same for the other two planned to build nuclear power plants, then they will have hands clean, "- said the blogger.
Washington has largely been silent. The State Department declined to comment on the Turkish plan to build nuclear power plants and the agreement with Russia, and did not make any official and public statements. "Since the United States is almost unheard open criticism" — says the Pamirs. However, he adds, "if you show interest in Russian, it can be regarded as a dangerous relationship." (In the late 1990s, the Clinton administration imposed sanctions against four Russian companies in connection with the fact that they allegedly supplying missile and nuclear technology and equipment to Iran. Sanctions were lifted in 2004.)
"We have never objected to the construction of Turkey's civilian nuclear power, because it, unlike, for example, that Iran does not violate the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons", — said the former ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman (Eric Edelman). According to him, a solid reputation in Turkey says that there should not be a big concern about its goals. At the same time, he said: "But that could change if Iran becomes a nuclear power. And I think such changes are possible. In my opinion, Turkey is mainly interested in the development of civil nuclear energy, and does it sincerely. But now the situation has changed. Now we must remember that she was thinking of signing agreements for reactors not only with Russia, but also with South Korea as part of a long-term strategy of risk insurance in case of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. "
It is well known that Turkey is opposed to the appearance of nuclear weapons in Iran, however, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again this year expressed support for Iran's civilian nuclear program, saying that "Turkey has always actively supported the position of the Islamic Republic of Iran on nuclear issues, and will continue to firmly adhere to this policy. " Thus, he called gratitude on the part of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It is known that generated a lot of controversy and contradictions of the Bushehr nuclear power plant built in Russia on August 31 went to full capacity.
Meanwhile, Russia is stepping up its promotional activities to increase sales geography. She wants to sell reactors around the world, operating under the plan announced by the head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko. This plan provides for doubling the production of nuclear energy in the country and a three-fold increase in sales in 2030. It is not clear who to contact in Turkey next time to sign an agreement on the construction of a second nuclear power plant. But Massey, of the Brookings Institution predicts that all of the following reactors will no longer be manufactured in Russia. Yes, electricity from nuclear power plants "Akkuyu" will come from a local source, "but it's not the diversification gain independence from Russia, as Russia will build, own and operate a nuclear power plant, "He says.
But while the Russian proposal on nuclear energy the most attractive. During his first term as president, Vladimir Putin signed a controversial law allowing Russia to import and permanently stored at spent nuclear fuel from other countries. Such a mechanism may be of very few suppliers, and this creates a problem with the spent nuclear fuel, which eventually collide and Turkey, and that will be emphasized opponents of nuclear power. To the dismay of activists, the accident at Fukushima has not weakened Turkey's intention to build at reactors, and Russia's desire to become a major supplier of equipment and technologies for nuclear energy of newcomers who want to join this club.
Less than a year after the accident at the Fukushima Putin said: "Now there is a rebirth, a renaissance of nuclear energy." And Russia is going to be in the thick of things.
Posted on: 11/22/2012 12:47