Energoatom gets approval to build used fuel facility

10 July 2017

Energoatom has received regulatory approval to start construction of a central used fuel storage facility at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRC) issued a licence on 6 June regarding "the right to carry out activities in the construction and commissioning of a nuclear installation", marking the official start of work on the facility, Energoatom said.

The new facility, which Energoatom is building together with Holtec International of the USA, will be a dry storage facility in which the used fuel will be stored in double-walled stainless steel canisters. The facility will mean Ukraine will no longer have to spend $200 million each year on its arrangement with Russia to transport and reprocess used nuclear fuel. The country's Cabinet of Ministers approved construction of the proposed facility at Chernobyl in October last year, allocating plots of land with a total area of 45.2 hectares.

In the course of presenting the licence, SNRC chief Boris Stolyarchuk said Energoatom had met an "extremely large" number of legislative conditions, according to an Energoatom statement.

Stolyarchuk said Energoatom was performing work of national importance since it "annually loses about $200 million exporting used nuclear fuel to Russia", he added. This is more than an economic consideration, he added, because nuclear fuel is a "strategic material, a future energy resource". Technologies are "constantly developing, and Ukraine will be able to use its valuable nuclear material in the future", he said.

Holtec signed the contract it won in a tender to build the used fuel store in 2005. Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in 2012 adopted a law on the siting, design and construction of the facility to store used fuel from Ukraine's Russian-built VVER nuclear power reactors.

In January last year, EnergoAtom and Holtec signed an amendment to the contract to build the facility at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and supply used nuclear fuel dry cask storage systems. It will receive used nuclear fuel from nine of the country's 15 reactors - seven VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s - located at Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky. The Zaporozhe nuclear power plant operates its own on-site used fuel storage facility that was commissioned in 2001.

The amendment means that EnergoAtom is responsible for the civil design and construction of the facility, while Holtec is responsible for the design and supply of used nuclear fuel dry storage, transport and related equipment.

Stolyarchuk said the Holtec technology to be used is already in use in many other countries, including Belgium, Spain, Sweden and the USA, which "confirms its safety". In May, Energoatom president Yury Nedashkovsky led a delegation to Holtec's plants in Pittsburgh, (Pennsylvania), Orrville (Ohio) and Camden (New Jersey). He said then the trip had confirmed the high quality of Holtec's production base and its ability to transfer that expertise to the Ukrainian project.

Nedashkovsky noted it was now 12 years since the state-run nuclear power plant operator had signed the contract for the CSFSF with Holtec. "We went through a very complicated way of legally settling all the issues to ensure the construction of a new nuclear facility of national significance, through all the procedures that were adopted at the legislative level after the contract had been signed," he said.

"And in spite of the internal political situation in the country, which was constantly changing, and the ambiguous attitude towards the facility by various political forces that used it in their electoral programs, in 2012 the process of legislative registration of the project was completed and the Verkhovna Rada passed the law on its construction," he added.

Nedashkovsky thanked the SNRC and the State Scientific and Technical Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Safety for their close attention to the project and thorough examination of the required documentation.

 Researched and written
by World Nuclear News