Russia to help Kazakhstan build nuclear plant

MOSCOW, Feb. 24 (Xinhuanet) - Russia is planning to help Kazakhstan build a nuclear power plant to ease the country's serious shortage of electric energy, said Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev on Monday.

The TASS news agency quoted Rumyantsev as saying that Kazakhstan had been seeking help from Russia's nuclear experts to build a nuclear power plant near Balkhash Lake, a region facing a growing shortage of electric energy.

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev discussed the plan with Russian President Vladimir Putin on his visit to Moscow on Feb. 19. The two countries so far have not madea final decision on the capacity of the plant.

It is estimated that it will take two years for the two sides to map out the construction plan.

Experts from Kazakhstan say that to ease the energy shortage, the region of Balkhash Lake needs a nuclear power plant capable ofgenerating 500 to 700 megawatts.

Noting considerations of costs and safety, Russian experts suggest that a plant with a capacity of 1000 megawatts might be the best option.

The Russian atomic energy minister said Russian experts could finish the job in seven years once the project began.