Ukraine expects own used fuel facility in 2017

02 July 2014

Ukraine has rekindled a long-held ambition to have its own storage facility for used nuclear fuel with the signing on 24 June of a revised contract with Holtec International.

Energoatom, the country's nuclear power plant operator, selected Holtec in 2005 for the turnkey supply of the facility. But delays to approval of a national law on management of used nuclear fuel - that was finally adopted in 2012 - and to allocation of a site for the new facility meant the contract was not implemented, Energoatom said on 1 July.

Ukraine's cabinet of ministers in April approved the transfer to Energoatom of a 45 hectare site in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone to establish the facility that will initially serve 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.

Energoatom said that once it had taken ownership of the land, its president, Yuri Nedaskovsky, set up a dedicated group within the company to start revising the contract with Holtec. The Pennsylvania-headquartered company said in May that Nedaskovsky had "re-invigorated" the project and resolved to build the facility by 2017.

"Given [Nedaskovsky's] drive and determination, I have no doubt that Ukraine will have an autonomous storage facility on its soil within three years, ending the country’s vulnerability in a key area,"  Holtec president and CEO, Kris Singh, said in May.

Singh was referring to the fact Ukraine relies on Russia to receive and then process its used nuclear fuel. The cost of the project to build its own facility is equivalent to four years of payments to Russia for storing Ukraine's fuel, Singh said. When it announced Holtec had won the contract in 2006, Energoatom said the cost of removing used nuclear fuel from three Ukrainian nuclear power plants was about $160 million per year.

Energatom has made two key amendments to its contract with Holtec, Nedaskovsky said on 1 July. To expedite construction work and to create local jobs, the two companies agreed that Energoatom would arrange direct contracting of work for the site design and construction work. They also changed the financial aspect of the agreement, from the bidding pattern in the contract at the tender stage, to the cost-plus pricing principle. Energoatom did not elaborate.

According to a feasibility study developed by Energoproekt, a research and design institute based in Kiev, the design capacity of the central storage facility will allow storage of 16,530 used fuel assemblies, including 12,010 VVER-1000 assemblies and 4520 VVER-440 assemblies. At the initial stage, the facility's start-up complex will be able to store 3620 used fuel assemblies, of which 2510 assemblies will come from VVER-1000 reactors.

The storage facility will employ Holtec's HI-STORM 190 vertical ventilated systems with 'double wall' multi-purpose canisters containing METAMIC-HT fuel baskets.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News