Turkey gears up efforts to avoid delays in Akkuyu nuclear plant

Turkey gears up efforts to avoid delays in Akkuyu nuclear plant

ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
Turkey gears up efforts to avoid delays in Akkuyu nuclear plant

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız (R) and Rosatom CEO Sergei Kirienko answer questions during a meeting on March 13. AA photo

Turkey is pushing to see the first unit of its planned Akkuyu nuclear power plant operating by 2019, despite risks of delay emerging from environmental approval uncertainty, Energy Minister Taner Yıldız has said.

The start of construction for the Mersin Akkuyu plant is scheduled for mid-2015, and by 2023 all four planned reactors are meant to have started generating power. However, the project still has to obtain a construction license and was hampered by other delays over the summer.

Speaking at a meeting with Rosatom’s Chief Executive Officer, Yıldız said the Environmental Assessment Evaluation (ÇED) report might affect the construction schedule of the plant, but that all issues, such as radiation levels and safety regulations, would be handled during the meeting.

Another major reason for the hold-up in the project is the lack of an eligible company to review and assess Rosatom’s reactor plans to ensure the design meets safety standards.

A tender by the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEK) to pick a firm to carry out this work has been cancelled at least three times after bidders failed to meet the pre-qualification criteria. But Yıldız claimed that the TAEK tenders would have “no effect” on the agenda.

Rosatom CEO Sergei Kirienko, meanwhile, said the Akkuyu plant could potentially provide $5 billion in contracts for Turkish companies, including construction and assembly.

Responding to a question about whether the political situation in Crimea and resulting sanctions would affect the project, Kirienko said the nuclear power plant projects are long-term and therefore would not be affected by political events.

 “The Akkuyu plant is planned to operate between 60 to 80 years and will have an investment volume of $20 billion,” Kirienko said.

 “The relations between Russia and Ukraine are very complicated at the moment, but all the nuclear power plants in Ukraine are operated by Russia and they continue to operate without any problems,” he added.