Work on Paks plant diaphragm wall gets under way

Work on the diaphragm wall for the expansion of Hungary's nuclear power plant in Paks is under way, with groundwork under the sixth block set to begin in August, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Wednesday.

The finalisation of the necessary permits for the full groundwork is on schedule, Szijjarto said after talks with Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko in Budapest.

Energy cooperation between Hungary and Russia is a guarantee of Hungary’s energy security, Szijjarto told a joint press conference with Murashko.

“And this is not an ideological or political matter, but a purely physical one,” he added.

“The new nuclear plant in Paks is the long-term guarantee for the security of Hungary’s energy supply, therefore Hungary will never support any sanctions on the nuclear industry,” Szijjarto said.

He welcomed that a recent approval from the European Union has opened the door to speeding up the Paks project. This has allowed construction to begin on the diaphragm wall, while groundwork for block six is set to get under way next month, he added.

Also, the ground consolidation plans are currently being finalised, he said, adding that the finalisation of the permits and plans for the full groundwork was on schedule.

Szijjarto said the Russian government was set to approve the modifications to the project’s financing contract in the coming days, which was set to be followed by the signing of the modified construction contract.

He added that Hungary will consider “any foreign legal or political manoeuvre” aimed at slowing down or blocking the project “an attack on our sovereignty”.

In response to a question, Szijjarto said that since the construction works were under way, Hungary should not abandon its target of completing the plant’s upgrade by 2030-2031.

“So I myself remain committed to putting the new blocks online by 2030-31,” Szijjarto said.

“And this is something I tell Rosatom’s executives at every single meeting, who so far have not objected to it.”

In a statement, Rosatom said on Wednesday that the diaphragm construction was part of the implementation phase which started on July 3. The works are proceeding in line with the permits of the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority, it said. As included in the permits, the new blocks will meet all Hungarian and European safety standards, Rosatom added. The guaranteed lifespan of the two new blocks will be 60 years, it said.

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