Global Industry Experts to Meet in Almaty as Kazakhstan Ponders Nuclear Power

Nuclear Power Plant; image: TCA,, Tamila Olzhabekova

ALMATY, Kazakhstan – A group that represents the global nuclear industry will meet next week in Kazakhstan, which plans to hold a referendum this year to decide whether to build a nuclear power plant in order to ease power shortages.

The London-based World Nuclear Association is holding the “working group” meetings in Almaty on April 15-16 in collaboration with the Energy Ministry of Kazakhstan, the world´s biggest uranium producer.

Delegates at the Almaty meetings “will hear about and exchange views on the specific requirements of Kazakhstan for the deployment of nuclear power, the global landscape, and opportunities for the country in driving forward its nuclear power plans,” the association said.

The periodic event, called World Nuclear Spotlight, gathers policymakers, stakeholders and industry leaders. The goal is to share best practices, conduct analysis and coordinate on economic, safety and environmental issues.

A nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan would be the first since the 1990s, when the Soviet BN-350 reactor in the Caspian city of Aktau was decommissioned.

Kazakhstan, however, faces conflicting energy and environmental pressures as it considers the plan to build a civilian nuclear plant. There are also geopolitical complications because of the potential involvement in the project of Russia and other foreign actors.

Many people in Kazakhstan are uneasy about nuclear power, recalling the trauma caused by devastating contamination over decades at the Soviet nuclear testing site at Semipalatinsk.