Japan vows 'high safety' for Turkish reactor

Last Updated: Fri, May 03, 2013 17:45 hrs

Japan has learned from the Fukushima disaster and will offer technology with the highest safety standards while building Turkey's second nuclear plant, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday.

Turkey chose a Japanese-French partnership for the construction of a nuclear reactor on its Black Sea coast and a nuclear cooperation agreement was signed during Abe's visit to Ankara.

Despite being prone to earthquakes, energy-dependent Turkey declared in the wake of the Fukushima incident that it would stand firmly by plans to build three nuclear power plants.

A powerful earthquake and tsunami off Japan's northeastern coast knocked out vital cooling systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and setting off the worst nuclear catastrophe since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

Turkey's Energy Ministry said the country decided to begin technical negotiations with Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and France's Areva, after companies from South Korea, China and Canada withdrew or were eliminated from the bid.

The 5,000-megawatt capacity plant is expected to cost $22 billion and be operational in 2023.

Russia will construct Turkey's first plant in Akkuyu, on the Mediterranean coast. It is scheduled to begin test production in 2019.

In constructing the second plant, "we are going to use first-class technology," Abe said. "We have carried our experience in nuclear safety to the highest level through lessons learned from past accidents and risks."

"We will share our experience with Turkey," he added. "We have raised standards, lifting us to the highest ranks in terms of nuclear safety."

Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said under the cooperation deal with Japan, Japanese experts also would work with Turkish engineers in selecting the site of a third nuclear plant.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was a rapidly developing nation that was forced to diversify energy resources. He has repeatedly downplayed nuclear risks.

"There may be a one in a million risk but that does not mean we can't take a step," Erdogan said. "We still take planes even if they crash, we still ride cars even if there are road accidents."

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