Bilibino unit 1 prepared for decommissioning

24 January 2019

The Russian regulator has approved the start of decommissioning work at unit 1 of the Bilibino nuclear power plant in Chukotka. Rosenergoatom, the operator subsidiary of state nuclear corporation Rosatom, announced yesterday it had received a 15-year licence to operate the unit without power generation. According to Russia's regulatory procedure, such a licence is required before a decommissioning licence, which will be granted for Bilibino 1 "in the second stage" of the process, Rosenergoatom said.

The Bilibino plant (Image: Rosenergoatom)

The unit was disconnected from the grid in March last year for a scheduled outage, during which its fuel was removed and placed in on-site used fuel ponds. The plant consists of four EGP-6 light water graphite-moderated reactors. According to Rosatom’s plans, unit 1 was to be shut down by December last year and units 2-4 are to follow in December 2021. Unit 1 will be the first EGP-6 to be decommissioned.

"This is one of the stages in the lifecycle of a nuclear power unit - between its operation at power and full decommissioning," Rosenergoatom said yesterday. "At this stage, Rosenergoatom, as the operator, will need to carry out both the transfer of the unit to a safe state and development of an appropriate set of documents confirming nuclear and radiation safety for when the unit is decommissioned. It will be required to obtain a licence from Rostechnadzor for the next stage - decommissioning unit 1," it added.

Units 2-4 are in operation and providing a reliable supply of electricity to the region, it said. The radiation level at the plant and in the adjacent territory corresponds to the normal operation of the units and does not exceed the natural background level, it added.

The Bilibino plant is the world’s northernmost nuclear power plant, Rosenergoatom noted. The units, which each have an installed capacity of 12 MWe, started operations between 1974 and 1977.

The plant is to be replaced by the floating nuclear power plant, Akademik Lomonosov, which is expected to be towed to its permanent base at Pevek this summer. Construction work is under way in Pevek, Russia's northernmost city, to create all the necessary on-shore infrastructure.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News