Application submitted for Paks II containment

04 January 2022

An application to build the containment building of the first new unit at Hungary's Paks II nuclear power plant has been submitted. Project company Atomerőmű Zrt said it should be approved within 150 days. Meanwhile, Hungary's nuclear regulator has assumed a new, more independent, legal status.

How the Paks II units will look (Image: Paks II)

The submission was "an important milestone" said Atomerőmű Zrt, which is progressing the project to add two VVER-1200 reactors alongside the existing four VVER-440 units at Paks. It marks the first regulatory submission for a nuclear building at the site.

The containment building is the main structure at a nuclear power plant, housing the reactor itself as well as its vital coolant systems. It has a role in containing the radioactive materials within, while also protecting the reactor system from external hazards. The design for the VVER-1200 is 72 metres high and spans a diameter of 52 metres. It features two walls of reinforced concrete designed to cope with extremes of temperature and weather as well as earthquake, flood and even aircraft impact and nearby explosions.

The Hungarian licensing process involves an array of separate licences. Atomerőmű Zrt already has permits to connect Paks II to the electricity grid, and in November gained approval to manufacture two reactor pressure vessels for the Paks II units. Some 18 buildings are already being built on the site in preparation for construction, as well as a concrete plant and a plant for rebar assembly.

The Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) "has 150 days to process the application for a construction permit" for the containment building, Atomerőmű Zrt said.

New regulatory regime begins

The HAEA announced that its new legal status had taken effect on 1 January and its head, Andrea Beatrix Kádár, had been officially re-appointed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

In November the Hungarian parliament approved changes to HAEA's structure, which HAEA said would make it "more organisationally independent". The regulator had missed a 12-month deadline and a 3-month extension allowed by its own processes to approve the main construction licence for Paks II.

HAEA's new status has given it more control over budgets and staffing and established that Kádár will report directly to parliament.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News