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Russia put off Reactor No 1 at the Leningrad nuclear plant

Power News - Published on Fri, 11 Jan 2019

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Bellona.Org reported that Russian nuclear officials say they has taken a Soviet-built nuclear reactor has out of operation after 45 years of service, in what is only the third project to decommission a civilian reactor that Moscow has undertaken. The state-controlled Rosatom corporation reported shortly before Christmas that Reactor No 1 at the Leningrad nuclear power plant has been shut down as planned and said its uranium fuel would take until 2023 to fully unload.

The power station’s energy production will eventually be replaced by reactors at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant II, which is currently under construction alongside the first in the town of Sosnovy Bor, 70 kilometers west of St Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland.

Launched in 1973, the reactor became the first unit of the RBMK-1000 type to be built in the Soviet Union. A reactor of that type exploded in Chernobyl in April 1986 in the world’s worst nuclear accident, and Rosatom was at pains in its announcement to stress that the Leningrad reactor had operated “reliably and safely” throughout its career.

Another three RBMKs were built at the Leningrad site throughout the 1970s, which Rosatom has said it intends to take out of services by 2021.

Mr Vladimir Pereguda, director of the Leningrad nuclear plant, in a release said that “The last stage of the life cycle of any nuclear facility begins with decommissioning. Now our task is to safely and securely maintain the shutdown unit, unload nuclear fuel from the reactor and prepare all its systems for decommissioning.”

Currently, Russia has taken on only one other full-scale decommissioning project on a commercial reactor. In 2011, Rosatom shut down the first two units of the Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant with the aim of decommissioning them fully.

Like the four RBMKs at the Leningrad plant, the older VVER-type reactors at the Novovoronezh will be replaced by VVER-1200 units at a new plant named for the old: The Novovoronezh nuclear power plant II.

These three decommissioned reactors therefore offer something of a test case for more than a dozen other reactors of these older types that Rosatom intends to shut down and replace over the next 12 years.

Aside from watching how Rosatom handles the pressing environmental issue of safely storing the tons of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste resulting from these decommissioning projects, it will be interesting to watch how this work is financed.

Like many other countries operating nuclear reactors, Russia funds decommissioning and dismantlement on the back of electricity tariffs charged by its nuclear power plants.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Fri, 11 Jan 2019
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