Back to category Published: 04 august 2022 Author: Zhanna Mukhatzhanova

Mangystau Nuclear Power Plant


When oil and gas deposits were discovered in Mangystau, the region saw a boom in development as industrial enterprises, cities, and villages began to be built. Cities and oil wells needed electrical and thermal energy, drinking and technical water. To meet these needs, the Mangystau Nuclear Power Plant was built in 1968. 

BN-350 reactor 

The BN-350 fast breeder reactor, put into operation in 1972, was the world's first reactor of this type. For more than 25 years, it has worked stably and safely, producing heat, electricity, and distilled water. In 1999, the reactor was shut down. Currently, the Mangystau Nuclear Power Plant contains three thermal power plants operating on gas: 

  • CHP-1 supplies Aktau with electricity and heat. 

  • CHP-2 generates heat and electricity and supplies steam to desalination plants. 

  • TPP provides electric energy to oil and gas fields. 

How is drinking water produced? 

There are no natural sources of fresh water in the Mangystau Region, so the plant takes water from the Caspian Sea and then desalinates it. 

To produce drinking water, the distillate is mixed with mineralized water, then it's purified with an adsorbent, enriched with salts, conditioned, and disinfected. 

The plant is equipped with special laboratories that constantly monitor the water quality. The water is also tested by leading scientific centers and universities. 

Lake Karakol 

CHP plants use water from the Caspian Sea to cool their reactors and turbines. Waste clean water is drained into the artificial Lake Karakol, located near the plant. The water in the lake is warmer than the water in the sea. Thanks to it, plankton and small fish inhabited the lake. The fish then attracted migratory birds that did not previously inhabit the region. Nowadays, the lake and the surrounding land are protected by the state and constitute a part of the Karagiye-Karakol Nature Reserve. Some species of migratory birds visit Lake Karakol twice a year on their way north or south. However, many species live in the lake permanently. The reserve is open for visitors, so you can admire rare birds, such as pink flamingo, mute swan, whooper swan, Dalmatian pelican, great white pelican, ruddy shelduck, great cormorant, and heron. Such diversity in wildlife proves that the lake's water does not contain any toxic substances. 

How to get there? 

Mangystau Nuclear Power Plant is located 13 km (8 mi) away from the center of Aktau. The road takes about 20 minutes. Entrance to the plant is prohibited and excursions are not conducted. However, the Karagiye-Karakol Nature Reserve is open to the public. Visits to Lake Karakol are strictly regulated, so you can go there only with a tour and accompanied by an inspector. The best time to visit is spring and autumn when migratory birds flock to the lake. 

Other tourist attractions near the Mangystau Nuclear Power Plant:

   •    The City of Aktau
   •    Caspian Sea
   •    Stigl Beach Resort
   •    Sunset Beach Resort
   •    Dostar Beach
   •    Karagiye-Karakol Nature Reserve

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