The cornerstone of a new used nuclear fuel store was laid yesterday in Bulgaria. The facility will store all the old fuel from the six Kozloduy power reactors.
The first stage in the store's development will see 2800 used nuclear fuel assemblies from the first and second VVER-440 reactors placed into 34 CONSTOR casks. This cask loading will occur within the storage pool facility where the fuel has been since January 2003, and the casks will be moved to the new adjacent facility. This should be complete next year.
Ultimately the new facility will store 8000 VVER-400 fuel assemblies as well as 2500 VVER-1000 assemblies. The store, known as the Dry Spent Fuel Storage Facility (DSFSF), is designed to last for at least 50 years.
Germany's Nukem GmBH and GNS (Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service) formed a consortium for the contract, with Nukem designing and building the storage building and supplying all auxiliary handling and transport equipment for the casks. GNS provides the casks and equipment to load them within the existing storage pool facility.
The €50 million ($78 million) project is funded by the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund, made up of donations from the European Commission as well as other Western countries and administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
The Kozludoy site plays host to four VVER-440 reactors, all of which have been permanently shut down as part of the agreements Bulgaria made in order to join the European Union. Units 1 and 2 shut down at the end of 2002; units 3 and 4 at the end of 2006. The two later VVER-1000 units at the site are still going strong and Bulgaria plans to build two new reactors at Belene to help make up the power shortfall, which has affected the entire region. Many politicians and nuclear industry leaders maintain it was unnecessary to shut down units 3 and 4 but a reversal of that part of the accession agreement seems highly unlikely.