Ukraine has started building two US-designed reactors at the Khmelnytskyi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in western Ukraine.

As reported by AFP, workers at the Khmelnytskyi NPP poured a symbolic cubic meter of concrete for the reactors on Thursday, April 11, which will use US technology and fuel. However, the news was only made public today as per Energoatom’s request due to security concerns over Russian attacks, where the region has experienced frequent Russian missile strikes as it houses an air base.

The ceremony took place just hours after Moscow struck and completely destroyed the Trypillya Thermal Power Plant (TPP) in the Kyiv region.

“This is our answer to the terrorists, this is our answer to the invaders,” said Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko.

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“Today we are talking about the future, we are talking about stability, we are talking about the development of nuclear energy,” he said, calling plans for Khmelnytskyi as Ukraine’s most significant modernization project since World War II.

The project is aimed at increasing Ukraine’s energy security and reducing its dependence on Russian nuclear technology, but Halushchenko did not say when the reactors will be operational.

Guests at the ceremony also included Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s state nuclear operator Energoatom, US Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink and the CEO of US nuclear energy company Westinghouse, Patrick Fragman.

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Fragman said the first unit would be on an “accelerated schedule” because Ukraine has agreed to buy heavy equipment that is ready to install, while Energoatom said construction of one reactor in peacetime takes five years and with an estimated cost upwards of $5 billion.

The US Exim Bank will partly finance the project.

As reported by Kyiv Post in January, the two US-designed AP-1000 reactors, using technology from Western power equipment maker Westinghouse, are to be accompanied by another two new, Soviet-designed VVER-1000 units using Russian-made equipment imported from Bulgaria.

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The AP-1000 units will each have a capacity of over 1,100 megawatts and, according to Westinghouse CEO Fragman, will be “the most advanced nuclear reactor operating today in the world.”

Energoatom chief Petro Kotin said when all six reactors are operational, the Khmelnytskyi NPP will become Europe’s largest plant, surpassing the Zaporizhzhia NPP located in central Ukraine, which is occupied by Russian troops at present.

Half of Ukraine’s energy is generated by its NPP. While all reactors are of Soviet design, they are currently operating on nuclear fuel from the US.

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