EBRD funds Ukrainian safety program

14 March 2013

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is to provide a €300 million ($388 million) loan to bring all of Ukraine's operating nuclear power reactors in line with modern safety standards.

South Ukraine (South Ukraine NPP)_460
South Ukraine's three VVERs will benefit from the upgrades (Image: South Ukraine NPP)

The total cost for the program to bring all of Ukraine's 15 operating nuclear reactors into line with both international standards and local regulations is estimated at €1.4 billion ($1.8 billion). Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community, is also to provide €300 million directly to the project, which is due to be completed by the end of 2017.

The project will cover up to 87 different safety measures at plants that the EBRD said do not currently meet international standards. Depending on the individual plant, measures will address design safety issues comprising the replacement of equipment in safety relevant systems, improvements of instrumentation and control for safety relevant systems and the introduction of organisational improvements for accident management. Further measures will be added to the evolving program if and when new issues are identified, in particular as a result of the post-Fukushima EU stress tests in which Ukraine participated voluntarily.

Ukraine's operating reactors - six units at Zaporozhe, three at South Ukraine, four at Rovno (also spelled Rivne) and two at Khmelnitsky - are all Gidropress-designed VVERs, most of which entered service in the 1980s. The two newest units, Khmelnitsky 2 and Rovno 4, have already been brought up to modern safety standards through a scheme financed by the EBRD and Euratom and completed in 2010. The wider upgrade program will ensure that the remaining units are also brought to this level, EBRD said, and will improve safety and reduce the probability of severe accidents.

The upgrade program has been developed by Ukrainian state nuclear operator Energoatom, taking into account International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recommendations, and reviewed by Ukraine's nuclear regulator with assistance from the European Commission to ensure internationally acceptable safety levels. Ecological assessments necessary for the program have been funded by the EBRD, while a nuclear safety evaluation, performed by the Riskaudit European nuclear safety consultancy, was financed by the European Commission.

The project will also serve to promote reforms in the nuclear energy sector in Ukraine, strengthen the independence and funding of the country's nuclear regulatory authority and improve its decommissioning and waste management programmes, the EBRD notes. All contracts under the project financed by the EBRD and Euratom will be awarded through a competitive open tender process.

The scheme is the EBRD's largest loan-funded nuclear safety project to date. EBRD managing director for energy and natural resources Riccardo Puliti said the bank's engagement was in line with its policy to support the safety of operating nuclear units in its investment areas. "While the EBRD proactively supports the reduction of the energy intensity of Ukraine's economy and the development of renewables, we also acknowledge the important role that nuclear power still plays in the energy mix of the country," he said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News