Paks unit 2 gets 20-year life extension

27 November 2014

Hungary's National Atomic Energy Office (OAH) has issued a licence to extend the operating life of unit 2 of the Paks nuclear plant by 20 years until 31 December, 2034. Unit 1 was granted a similar licence in 2012.

Paks 460 (Paks NPP)
The four existing units at Paks (Image: Paks NPP)

Plant operator MVM Paksi Atomeromu, which is owned by state energy holding company MVM, said in a statement yesterday that it expects to receive extensions to the operating licences of units 3 and 4, which expire in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Paks currently comprises four Russian-supplied VVER-440 pressurized water reactors, which started up between 1982 and 1987. Though originally 440 MWe gross, the units have been upgraded and will be modified further to give 500-510 MWe gross.

In early 2014, Hungary and Russia signed a cooperation agreement which included the construction of two new VVER reactors of up to 1200 MWe each at Paks. The first new unit is to be commissioned in 2023, with the second following about two years later.

In August, used fuel assemblies that were damaged during a chemical cleaning process at the plant in 2003 were transported to Russia for processing.

Irradiated fuel from unit 2 of the Paks plant suffered damage from overheating in April 2003 when water circulation in a nuclear fuel washing tank was inadequate. The assemblies overheated in the cleaning tank, which was submerged in the transfer pond, so that most became deformed with burst cladding, releasing radioactive material into the water and noble gases into the plant area. The cleaning tank was designed, manufactured and operated by France's Framatome ANP. The event was categorised at Level 3 on the International Nuclear Events Scale.

Unit 2 was shut down at the time its fuel was removed for washing and did not restarted until December 2006 due to the complications posed by the stranded damaged fuel. Russia's TVEL won an international tender for restoration work at unit 2. The removal of the damaged fuel was completed in January 2007.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News