The first reactor at the Rostov Atomic Energy Station in southern Russia has been turned on to minimal output. Over the next few months it will gradually be cranked up to full power. The plant will provide electricity to the Rostov province and elsewhere in the North Caucasus region.
Construction work began on the VVER-1000 unit at Rostov 1 in Volgodonsk back in 1978. However the work was halted in 1990 on government orders due to public protests prompted by the 1986 accident at Chernobyl. As deterioration at coal-powered electricity plants and chronic funding shortages led to increasing blackouts across Russia, the government announced a drive to revive the nuclear energy industry. In 1999 the Atomic Energy Ministry allocated funds to complete the Rostov reactor and several other stalled projects.
Rostov began its commissioning process on 19 January when the Russian safety authority issued the plant with permission to start up. Fuel loading began two days later, on 21 January. The Rostov site also houses a second VVER-1000 unit. Construction of that unit began in 1980.