Ukrainian used fuel storage in commissioning

31 January 2022

Ukraine's central storage site for used nuclear fuel is in cold testing and should receive its first shipments in April, according to its operator, the utility Energoatom.

Petro Kotin and Oleh Korikov talk to technicians at the used fuel store (Image: Energoatom)

Known as the CSFSF, Ukraine's Centralised Spent Fuel Storage Facility has been a long-term project for the country. Contracts were signed for its construction with USA-based Holtec International in 2005, though construction only began in 2017.

The CSFSF is a dry storage site for used nuclear fuel assemblies from seven VVER-1000 and two VVER-440 reactors at the Rivne, Khmennitsky and South Ukraine nuclear power plants. It is designed to have a total storage capacity of 16,530 used fuel assemblies, including 12,010 VVER-1000 assemblies and 4520 VVER-440 assemblies.

Vitrified high-level waste from the reprocessing of Ukrainian fuel will be returned from Russia to be stored in the CSFSF as well. The facility is located near the Chernobyl site, about 14 kilometres from the border with Belarus, and designed to last at least 100 years.

Shipments of used fuel to the CSFSF will be made by rail, using a 43-kilometre rail line which was laid for the purpose and tested in July last year.

Testing of all the CSFSF facilities and systems is now under way without using actual used fuel, hence the term 'cold testing'. The programme of trials is being carried out together by Energoatom and Ukrainian safety regulator, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU), as well as other scientific and security authorities. It follows a two-month period of testing by Energoatom.

"Despite many difficulties and obstacles, we have completed this strategic project, which is a symbol of our country's energy independence," said Petro Kotin, Energoatom CEO.

The creation of the Ukrainian facility means that Energoatom no longer contracts the service from Russia's Rosatom, with significant cost savings of USD200 million per year.

Head of the SNRIU, Oleh Korikov, said on 28 January that the CSFSF was "almost ready."

He added that "testing is an important step, and we will make sure that they are conducted in compliance with all the requirements. If the remaining works continue to be carried out just as successfully, the issuance of a permit for hot tests using used nuclear fuel is quite possible on 9 March."

Kotin said: "We reaffirm our intention to deliver the first used nuclear fuel casks to the CSFSF site in April this year. The approved schedule of testing, resolving comments and consideration of documents by the regulator gives grounds to state this with certainty."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News