New lease of life for Smolensk

09 February 2012

Upgrade work will enable the lives of three RBMK reactors at the Smolensk site in Russia to be extended until the first new unit of a replacement plant is up, according to Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko.

Sergei Kiriyenko shares the news at Smolensk (Image: Rosenergoatom)

Speaking during a visit to the site at Desnogorsk, Kiriyenko noted that a total of RUB45 billion ($1.5 billion) is to be spent in a large-scale modernisation program for the three units at the site. The work aims to achieve 15-year life extensions for the units, and Kiryenko said that an extension for Smolensk unit 1 must be secured before its initial 30-year operating licence is expires in December of this year. This, he said, would "guarantee" the operation of the plant until 2027, by which time the first of the new units should be on line.

Four VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors are planned for the Smolensk II nuclear power station. Site preparation work for the first unit will be under way this year, Kiriyenko promised, with the first unit completed "no later than 2024".

Russia is the only country where Soviet-design RBMK reactors - made infamous by the Chernboyl accident of 1986 - still operate. All have undergone extensive modification work to bring them closer to Western safety standards in the decades since the accident, and the achievement of a 45-year operating lifetime for the plants is seen as realistic following extensive refurbishment. All the RBMKs with the exception of the oldest unit, Leningrad 1, are scheduled for 5% power uprates by 2013.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News