The decision has been almost adopted. Volunteers handed out colourful leaflets to those who arrived to public hearings dedicated to construction of nuclear power plant in Astravets: “There will be Belarusian nuclear power plant!”
There were only 813 registered attendees (those who had a right to ask questions). Among them were representatives of state organisations, schools, rural soviets near Astravets, educational departments… But not all of them managed to get into the cinema “Astravets”. People crowed in the lobby with screens, stood near the entrance. Loudspeakers were placed outside the building, “Komsomolskaya Pravda in Belarus” writes.
The public hearings were very strange. When “reports of the population” started, those who were against could have been counted on fingers. But those who supported the idea came one after another and recited verses: “The country has embarked on a great deed. We should develop atomic energy industry. Today we’ll state proudly and boldly: There would certainly be a nuclear power station in Belarus!” Or: “There are many constructions in Belarus. “Minsk-Arena”, ice palaces… It is clear that we build reliably. Astravets is to prove that once again!” Or categorically: “There will be a nuclear power station for sure! Those who don’t like it – push off to Caucasus! And we’ll live here wonderfully!”
The summary: During the pubic hearings journalists heard the following facts:
About economic benefits
Mikhail Mikhadzyuk, deputy energetic minister of Belarus: “Our economy cannot digest electricity prices, we must do something quickly!”
- There are not enough resources to satisfy demands of the country. Even if we would extract everything we have from the ground, we won’t give enough energy to the country. We have plain rivers, the speed of wind is low. Correspondently, their energy potential is not high. If we would construct wind parks for receiving energy, it would cost more than construction of the nuclear power plant, and we would be able to satisfy only 3% of our demands! Our economy can fail to digest energy tariffs, we must do something quickly! The president is against dictation of monopolists, for economic sustainability of our country! And it is possible only with construction of a nuclear power plant.
Alexander Glukhov, first president of Russian company “Atomstrojexport”: “The country would save 24 million cubic metres of gas!”
- Construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus would be beneficial for us as well. We would be able to sold gas to the West at a price higher than we are selling to you.
Mikalai Ulasevich, former geography teacher, a pensioner: “We will get into debt hole!”
- Much is said about economic benefits. And what would we do with radioactive waste? We’ll send them to Russia. And it is not for free. The country will have unmanageable debt load. We are nearing total economic dependence!
Mikhail Mikhadzyuk, deputy energetic minister of Belarus: “IAEA has approved that”
- IAEA missions worked in Belarus. They studied all the materials of our experts’ research, and have given high evaluation to it.
From a state-sponsored booklet given at the entrance of the hall:
Since the notorious 1986, no emergencies have taken place at 10 nuclear power stations of Russia. A nuclear power plant which is to be constructed in Belarus, would be designed after a Russian nuclear power plant of a new generation. The main peculiarity of the project is use of additional systems of security: “a trap” for active zone’s melt, situated under a nuclear reactor and a residual-heat removal system are used. The reactor is protected against an earthquake, hurricane, a plane crash. Hydro-energy reactors are most sold in the world because of their safety.
From the “Critical remarks concerning Belarusian nuclear power station’s preliminary environmental impact statement” created by a group of Russian and Belarusian ecologists. One of them, Andrei Ozharovski, was detained for7 days right during the hearings. The restless engineer and physicist was sentenced to 7 days of arrest by the court.
Ozharovski and his colleagues tried to say that:
- In Belarusian estimates the possibility of radionuclides release during possible accidents have been underestimated by an order of hundreds and even thousands;
- The size of the territory which could be affected by a nuclear power plant working trouble-free, and by accident’s emission, is estimated wrongfully. As a result, measures for defence of the population and minimization of aftermaths of possible accidents haven’t been provided for;
- The question of putting the nuclear power plant out of operation hasn’t been worked out.
About country’s image
Alexander Glukhov, first president of Russian company “Atomstrojexport”: “NPP means status”
- Any country which adopts a decision to construct a nuclear power plant, receives a different status, both politically and economically.
Mikhail Mikhadzyuk, deputy energetic minister of Belarus: “Experts will go to regions”
- Experts from different spheres would go to regions, medical services to population would be improved. For instance, in France there is a competition between regions for construction of a nuclear power station at their territory. It is because they want to improve infrastructure. Astravets will grow.
Mikalai Ulasevich, former geography teacher, a pensioner: “NPP does not need milkmaids!”
- Dwellers of Astravets believe new jobs would appear. And all of them dream that they would work at the nuclear power station and be paid huge salaries. But nobody explains that experts in nuclear-power engineering would work there, not tractor drivers and milkmaids! Almost no one from our people has special education.