Belarus RPV change is 'public acceptance' matter, says Rosatom

28 September 2016

Russia's readiness to replace the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) its workers dropped during installation work in August at unit 1 of Belarus' first nuclear power plant, reflects the fact this is a public acceptance matter rather than a technological concern, Rosatom director general Sergey Kirienko said yesterday. Kirienko spoke to reporters during the International Atomic Energy Agency's 60th General Conference being held this week in Vienna.

Belarus' energy ministry said on 11 August it wanted the equipment to be replaced, which Kirienko said would not have a negative impact on implementation of the new-build project, which is in Ostrovets.

"We are sympathetic to the position of our Belarusian colleagues," Kirienko said, adding, "Technical requirements are not the basis of the decision, but rather the matter of public acceptance is." The public in Belarus have a "more sceptical attitude" towards nuclear energy, he said, owing to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in Ukraine in 1986.

"We see no problems and the project is continuing," he said.

Rosatom subsidiaries OKB Gidropress and Atomstroyexport inspected the reactor vessel and sent the results of that to the project's customer - the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant Company - and to Gosatomnadzor, specifically, the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry.

Kirienko confirmed the RPV was "absolutely functional, and can be used on other projects". He added that its replacement incurs "no additional costs" for the customer, other than for its transport to the site.

An intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Belarus specifically on cooperation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus was signed in March 2011.

AEM-Technology, another Rosatom subsidiary, said in May that it had completed assembly of the reactor vessel for the VVER-1200 unit 2 of the Belarus nuclear power plant.

In March, AEM-Technology announced it had completed assembly of the internals for unit 1 of the plant. The reactor vessel itself was shipped there in October last year.

Operation of the first unit of the Ostrovets plant is scheduled for November 2018 and the second unit in July 2020, to give 2340 MWe net capacity on line.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News