Ukraine rethinks Khmelnitski ties with Russia

17 December 2014

Ukraine plans "to denounce" its intergovernmental agreement with Russia to build two new reactors at the Khmelnitski nuclear power plant, Energoatom president Yuri Nedashkovsky said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters during the French-Ukrainian Nuclear Business Forum in Kiev, Nedashkovsky said the Ukrainian legal framework for the project consisted of two laws and six corresponding acts of the Cabinet of Ministers.

Revoking the agreement "is a long process and we are now at the very start of [it]," he said. The legal framework focuses on cooperation with Russia's Atomstroyexport, "so a number of documents will require appropriate adjustments."

An Energoatom spokesperson confirmed Nedashkovsky's comments in an email to World Nuclear News today.

State-run Energoatom operates Ukraine's 15 nuclear power reactors at four sites - Khmelnitski, Rovno, South Ukraine and Zaporozhe. All the units are Russian VVER types, two being 440 MWe models and the rest larger 1000 MWe units. Ukraine buys nuclear fuel from Russia's TVEL and US firm Westinghouse, which is majority-owned by Japan's Toshiba.

Interfax Ukraine quoted Nedashkovsky yesterday as saying that Energoatom hopes to be able to export and reprocess its used nuclear fuel, both of TVEL and Westinghouse origin, at Areva's facilities in France. This "diversification option" may be implemented within the framework of a previously signed agreement with Areva, Nedashkovsky reportedly said.

Ukraine currently reprocesses and stores its used nuclear fuel in Russia only.


Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on 9 December that Ukraine intends to complete construction of units 3 and 4 of the Khmelnitski plant in 2018. Yatsenyuk noted the "significant expansion of cooperation" with Westinghouse in the supply of nuclear fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants as an alternative to fuel produced in Russia.

Westinghouse signed a fuel supply contract with Energoatom in 2008. Through that contract, Westinghouse supplied a total of 630 nuclear fuel assemblies to the three VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors at the South Ukraine plant. In April, Energoatom extended that contract through to 2020.

In June, Ukraine's energy ministry said that a new concept for the development of nuclear power is expected to be adopted before the end of the year and will include the technical and financial aspects of the construction of new power units, as well as advancing plans for a fuel fabrication plant and a waste repository. In July, the cabinet reviewed the situation, affirmed the priority of nuclear power, and said that a western-design reactor might be built at South Ukraine, which had access from the sea for large equipment delivery.

In September, Energoatom executive head Natalia Shumkova reportedly said the company might start shipping its nuclear waste to Areva's recycling facility in La Hague, France. The results of a study into this should be available by April 2015, Shumkova added.

Site works started in 2012 at Ukraine's first domestically-owned central storage facility for used nuclear fuel and full construction was due to start in mid-2014. The first phase to 2015 was to set up capacity for fabrication of fuel rods and assemblies (using pellets from Ulba in Kazakhstan, 34% TVEL-owned) and the second phase to 2020 was to involve production of fuel pellets.

It was expected to start supplying fuel in 2016, and that it would cater all nuclear fuel needs of Ukraine's nuclear power plants, while surplus products could be exported under separate arrangements with TVEL, mainly to Eastern Europe. But in July, construction was delayed due to disagreement on terms and conditions of the contract, and Ukraine's government said Westinghouse or Areva might be called upon.

In August, TVEL said it was ready to supply the equipment for the plant as soon as contract disagreements and financing were resolved, and Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant said it had manufactured the process lines and was putting them into storage.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News