October 15, 1995 in Nation/World

Cuban Plant Said To Be Like Chernobyl’s

Associated Press
 

Russia is pushing to resume construction of a nuclear plant in Cuba that has stirred safety concerns because its design is reportedly similar to the ill-fated plant at Chernobyl.

First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets told Cuban officials at the site of the Juragua nuclear plant on Friday that Moscow wants a return on its huge financial investment in the project.

“It would be incorrect to abandon this facility,” Soskovets was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as saying. Construction of the project was halted three years ago when funding dried up.

The plant is being touted as a symbol of revived ties between Moscow and the communist government in Havana, which have drifted apart since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

The United States has long opposed construction of the plant, which is just 180 miles from Key West, Fla. The U.S. General Accounting Office has concluded that an accident at Juragua could spread radiation as far as Texas and Virginia.

The plant’s design reportedly is similar to that of Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986. Some former Juragua engineers who defected say it is poorly built.

Juragua director Isaac Alayon, however, said the plant meets international standards and that the lessons of the Chernobyl catastrophe had been taken into account, ITAR-Tass said.

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