Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 132

The atomic energy ministry is considering building five more nuclear power plants, according to Vitaly Lebedenko, president of Rosnergoratom. Two would be built in the Far East and one each in northwestern and central Russia and the Urals. Lebedenko said the Russian public appears to have gotten over the shock of the Chernobyl accident, realizing the need for the use of atomic energy, which, he said, has no alternative in Russia or worldwide. "In 1989, a mere 5 percent of local residents were supportive of the idea of a nuclear power plant being put up in the region, but the figure has gone up since," he said. He was referring to regional polls commissioned by the management of the Maritime nuclear power plant, now under construction. Lebedenko said there was a similar trend in the rest of Russia. (4)

Lebedenko’s advocacy notwithstanding, international expert and public opinion is actually heading away from using atomic energy to generate electricity, and back to fossil fuels or up to renewable sources like sun, wind and water. As technology now stands, huge and uncertain capital costs are involved in building nuclear power stations, storing spent fuel which can remain radioactive for centuries, and decommissioning. It also takes ten years or more to bring a new nuclear power plant on line, which in poor countries may also require construction of a national grid. Finally, as Lebedenko acknowledges, operation of nuclear reactors in some countries poses a large danger of nuclear accidents. For these and other reasons, most of the world’s rich countries have stopped ordering new reactors and are abandoning nuclear programs. Many experts view Russia’s continuing investment in nuclear power plants as an expensive mistake.

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