Turkey’s first nuclear power plant’s new Turkish staff members, who were trained in Russia for more than 6 years, have said that “zero-defect policy” was at the heart of the challenging training program.
As part of an agreement between the two governments, students from the Turkish universities, mostly engineers, have been enrolled in training programs in Russia since 2011 to take jobs afterwards at the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant being constructed in the Mediterranean province of Mersin.
Following a Russian language preparatory class for one year, they were given lessons on general engineering for 3 years and atomic energy expertise for 2.5 years.
“I was studying at Gebze Technical University. I saw this program when I was searching for internship programs on the internet. I applied and I was accepted. The training started in 2021,” Seda Yürekli told daily Hürriyet.
“There was a huge difference in educational systems of the Russians and ours. It has been particularly beneficial to have learned the Russian technical lingo. I have started working at the [Akkuyu nuclear power] plant now,” she added.
Atahan Kisecik was studying chemical engineering at the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) in Ankara in 2012, when he applied for the training program.
“The trainings were in-depth, critical and challenging. There was no room for any mistakes. There were also students from other countries such as Vietnam, Bolivia, Ghana and Bulgaria. We did our internships at nuclear plants. There were also some classes on the Chernobyl disaster,” he said.
“The most important thing we were instructed was not to take a personal responsibility and commit an error. It’s all about the rules,” added Kisecik.
Ülkü Savaş, a graduate of the Nuclear Energy Engineering Department at the Hacettepe University, also said that, “it was the education system keeping always on the hop.”
Now, she is assigned at the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant to analyze accident and leakage risks.
More than 140 students graduated from the training programs in Russia and returned, and 102 more students will join them in 2012 and 2022.
Application for new license
Rosatom, Russian state-owned nuclear company, has officially applied for a license to build the fourth reactor of Turkey’s first atomic power station.
The Turkish Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NDK) has recently received the application for the construction of the last reactor of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant.
NDK is also reviewing the application for the third reactor, which is planned to start running in 2025.
Some 6,500 workers has been working in the construction of the plant’s first two units, which are expected to start generating energy in 2023 and 2024.
Rosatom has been granted electricity purchase guarantee from the plant with a 4,800 megawatt (MW) power capacity for 15 years.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin launched the construction of the plant via video conference in April 2018. The laying of the foundation for the first reactor was completed in March 2019.
The total cost of the nuclear plant’s construction is estimated at $20 billion.