BelgradeÂ – Serbia will not develop a nuclear power plant for at least another decade, Petar Skundric, the countryâ€™s Mining and Energy Minister says.
His remarks come amid a months-long debate in Serbiaâ€™s scientific community over whether the country should build a nuclear power plant to reduce its energy dependence from imports of power, oil and gas.
In remarks carried by Belgradeâ€™s B92 network, Skundric said that â€œno one should be afraid that Serbia will be developing a nuclear plant within next 15 years.â€
â€œFrom the moment the country starts to develop a feasibility study for such a power plant until its actual development, we would need at least 12 years,â€ Skundric said.
After the 1986 disaster in Ukraineâ€™s Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the then communist Yugoslavia adopted a moratorium on such development. The former country then retained only two reactors, the Krsko power plant in Slovenia and a smaller one tailored for scientific use in the Nuclear Sciences Institute at Vinca, just outside Belgrade.
As a successor of the former state, Serbia took over the moratorium after it formally adopted its new constitution in 2006.
Skundric however sought to encourage more discussion about the issue and said that that â€œalthough Serbia has such a moratorium it has no moratorium on debate about the use of such energy resources.â€
He warned that Serbian public â€œmust know that the entire Europe is dotted with nuclear power plants and that countries in the region are either building or have plans to develop such power plants.â€
â€œThe development and usage of a nuclear power plant mobilises major resources and boosts employment,â€ he said.Â
He said that Italian investors will likely develop a nuclear power plant in Albania and that neighboring Croatia mulls investments in two such projects.
Skundric said that Serbiaâ€™s primary task is to secure and relocate nuclear waste from the Vinca institute.
In 2007, the then Serbian authorities announced they will return all used fuel rods from the Vinca reactor to Russia for reprocessing by 2010. The reactor was developed in the early 1950s asÂ part of the former Yugoslavia’s national nuclear programme. It was closed and partly decommissioned in early 1980s.
In 2002, fearing a possible terrorist attack, the Serbian authorities shipped all 6,000 unused fuel rods from the Vinca Institute to Russia.