Ceremony Marks Construction Start In Turkey

Leaders from Russia and Turkey marked the symbolic first pour of concrete for the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant's Unit 1 on Tuesday, hooking up video-link with the formal ceremony taking place in Ankara, Turkey.

Putin and ErdoganRussian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan both attended the event and made statements kicking off the construction phase of the four-unit Russian-designed facility that will feature four VVER-12000 reactors, which Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachov noted were Generation III+ reactors “which meet the world's highest safety standards.”

“The model we are building at Akkuyu is already being built in a series. Unit 6 of Novovoronezh NPP and Unit 1 of Leningrad NPP II, based on the same design, are already up and running,” he said. “With the former in commercial operation and the later launched n February,” he said as quoted by Nuclear Engineering International.

The Tuesday event in Turkey represented the ceremonial first pour, which occurred a day after the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority, after several delays, granted the construction license for the Akkuyu plant. Technically, the first pour occurred in December with a temporary construction license, when a sub-base was poured to allow for Tuesday's more visible construction start.

Vladimir Putin said that Unit 1 at Akkuyu in the southern province of Mersin would remain on schedule, with a start-up date of 2023 expected. “I am confident that the joint work of Russian and Turkish specialists will allow us to fulfill all the plans in time,” he said.

The entire project is expected to cost $20 billion, but the price tag could go higher, warned Erdogan, who justified the higher costs by noting the plant would make Turkey more energy independent. When completed, the plant, Turkey's first commercial nuclear power plant, is expected to produce 10 percent of Turkey's electricity.

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