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Belarus Nuclear Plant Taken Offline After 'Protection System Activated'

Astravets is Belarus's only nuclear plant.
Astravets is Belarus's only nuclear plant.

MINSK -- Belarusian authorities say the country’s new nuclear power plant has been taken offline during testing procedures after the generator protection system was triggered.

At 7:02 p.m., Unit 1 at the Astravets plant was “disconnected from the network after the generator protection system was activated,” the Energy Ministry said in a statement on January 16.

This occurred “during the pilot industrial operation of Power Unit 1, as part of which the systems and equipment are being tested," the ministry said, adding that radiation levels in the area were “normal.”

In November 2020, just three days after it was inaugurated near the western city of Astravets, Belarus's only nuclear plant halted electricity production after voltage transformers were said to have exploded.

The plant resumed operations several days later.

Upon its planned completion in 2022, the plant, built by Russian state-owned firm Rosatom and financed by Moscow with a $10 billion loan, is to have two reactor units.

The facility's construction has been divisive among Belarusians, who suffered greatly as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Belarus saw a quarter of its territory contaminated in the world's worst civilian nuclear accident.

Lithuania, whose capital, Vilnius, is just 50 kilometers away, also opposed the project.

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