PM kick starts hydropower plant after disaster

Published 24 February, 2010, 10:42

Edited 24 February, 2010, 21:43

A restored part of the hydropower plant in the Siberian republic of Khakassia, the site of a tragedy that killed 75, has been restarted. The Russian Prime Minister witnessed the re-launch.

Vladimir Putin put the unit into operation, it having been under repairs since December last year, pressing a symbolic red button to revive the damaged plant. Before the ceremony, Putin and Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin had flown in a helicopter and observed the plant from the air. The guests were also shown a video presentation about the history of the power plant.

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The part that was re-launched suffered the least damage. However, full reconstruction of the power plant is not expected to be completed earlier than 2014, at an estimated cost of over 1 billion dollars.

The accident happened last August and claimed the lives of 75 workers. The equipment failed because of a number of factors, primarily the extra workload from Bratskaya hydropower, which had suffered from a fire, combined with human error. The failure caused flooding of the engine and turbine rooms.

Tycoons get lashed out at

Prime Minister Putin has pointed the finger at Russian electricity tycoons for what he called "eating investment cash" during a meeting on upgrading Russia's power grid. It happened after the opening of a new section of the Sayano Shushenskaya hydro-electric power plant.

According to Putin, state funds of nearly half-a-trillion rubles had been made available for power plant upgrades, but was instead used for speculative purposes.

Putin made it crystal clear that he was talking about Mikhail Prokhorov from the Oneksim investment fund, Vladimir Potanin from Norilsk Nickel, Viktor Vekselberg from the Renova group and Leonid Lebedev, a key stake-holder in TGK-2.

“Unfortunately, some investors don’t even have a working plan,” said the Prime Minister. “For example, the fourth territorial generating company. Mr. Prokhorov is the main shareholder there. He feels alright in terms of the economy – you could say he's cashed in recently. So he has the money. He is visiting different offices, including mine – we have good relations – and is seeking ways to use these funds. But he has to comply with his earlier promises first.”

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