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The Warsaw Voice » Business » April 26, 2012
Business & Economy
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Nuclear Power: Gov’t Aims to Assuage Fears
April 26, 2012   
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The government has launched an information campaign to address the public’s concerns over Poland’s plans to build its first nuclear power plant.

The campaign, organized by the Economy Ministry, began at the end of March and will continue for two years. It focuses on the public’s distrust of nuclear energy. “We will try to provide everyone with solid information about the upsides of nuclear energy and whenever necessary, we will seek to clarify doubts that arise with regards to nuclear power,” Zbigniew Kubacki, the director of the Economy Ministry’s Nuclear Energy Department, said. The campaign will include public debates and conferences, television programs and ads and a range of information and educational projects. Also planned are meetings with residents of three villages on the Baltic coast earmarked as possible locations for Poland’s first nuclear power plant: Choczewo, G±ski and Żarnowiec.

At the end of last year, just over a third of the public in Poland were in favor of nuclear power. Public support has declined in recent years, in part due to the meltdown at the Fukushima power plant in Japan and Germany’s decision to abandon its nuclear power program.

In 2009, the government started work on the Polish Nuclear Energy program for the next 20 years. Under preliminary plans, construction of Poland’s first nuclear power plant was to be completed by 2020, but the date has been since shifted forward around five years. If everything goes according to plan, the first reactor will be ready in 2021 or 2022, but the power plant will need at least three reactors to be operational.

According to Kubacki, the delay is due to the ambitious schedule under which the government’s plans are to be carried out. “The construction of a nuclear power plant is a very long and complicated process,” Kubacki said. “The preparations and then the construction take at least ten years, which is why the preparations have to be very thorough.”

The Economy Ministry estimates the preparation stage will take at least four years. “A bidding procedure will be launched internationally and the Polish Energy Group (PGE) will select the technology,” Kubacki said. “We expect that the bidding procedure alone will take two years. Eight companies will take part in it. Then, the selected technology will be evaluated and applications will be submitted for all the necessary licenses from the National Atomic Energy Agency. The government’s final decisions can be expected once the four-year period is over.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency divides the construction of nuclear power infrastructure into three stages. The first stage starts with the decision to build a plant and ends with the announcement of the bidding procedure. The second stage starts with the bidding procedure and end when construction begins. The final stage involves the construction itself and the new facility being put into operation. For a country building its first nuclear power plant, the three stages are expected to take 10-15 years.
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