South Ukraine 3 fully loaded with Westinghouse fuel

20 July 2018

Westinghouse Electric Company announced yesterday that unit 3 of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant has been loaded with a full core of its VVER-1000 fuel. The unit, near Yuzhnoukrainsk in the Mykolaiv province of Ukraine, thus becomes the first VVER-1000 reactor anywhere to operate with fuel assemblies not supplied by Russia.

The South Ukraine plant (Image: Energoatom)

The nuclear fuel delivered by Westinghouse is manufactured at its fuel fabrication facility in Västerås, Sweden. The company supplies fuel to six of Ukraine's 15 nuclear power reactors, which from 2021 will increase to seven. The 15 reactors - at Zaporozhe, Rovno, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky - are all operated by state-run Energoatom. They include 13 VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s with a total capacity of 13,835 MWe.

"Westinghouse began supplying fuel to Ukraine in 2005, when the first lead test assemblies were delivered to South Ukraine Unit 3," said Aziz Dag, vice president and managing director for Northern Europe at Westinghouse. "We are proud to continue supporting Ukraine with their energy diversification by supplying a full core of Westinghouse VVER-1000 fuel to our customer, Energoatom."

Michele DeWitt, senior vice president for nuclear fuel at Westinghouse, added: "Westinghouse has made significant investments over the last several years in order to further enhance our fuel delivery support to Energoatom. We have dedicated production lines for VVER-1000 fuel and stand ready to supply fuel for further contract expansions."

In a separate statement, Energoatom said 163 of Westinghouse's TVS-WR fuel assemblies had been loaded into South Ukraine 3 following the completion of scheduled maintenance work on the reactor on 16 July. There were no problems with the loading and on 18 July the unit was brought to full capacity, it said.

The full loading of the unit with Westinghouse fuel will enable Energoatom to complete the licensing process within a year and switch the reactor from pilot to industrial operation, Energoatom President and CEO Yury Nedashkovsky said.

Westinghouse and Energoatom held a meeting at the site of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant yesterday to mark the milestone. Others in attendance included representatives of the US Embassy in Ukraine, the US Department of Energy, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory of the USA, the Ministry of Energy and the Coal Industry of Ukraine, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine, the State Scientific Technical Centre on Nuclear and Radiation Safety, as well as members of the Ukrainian parliament.

During the meeting, Nedashkovsky noted that the full loading of the core of the unit 3 with Westinghouse fuel was a landmark event for Ukraine. He thanked the plant personnel and the regulatory authorities for their "concerted and persistent" efforts towards Ukraine becoming the only country to date using alternative supplies of nuclear fuel for VVER-1000 type reactors that were designed in the former Soviet Union.

Vladimir Lisnichenko, general director of South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, explained Ukraine's policy of nuclear fuel diversification, which originated in 2000 with the signing of a Ukrainian-American intergovernmental agreement. This agreement was implemented in two stages, he said. The first was in 2005, when six pilot Westinghouse fuel assemblies were loaded into South Ukraine 3. The second was in 2010, when 42 Westinghouse fuel assemblies were loaded into the core of the unit.

"Moving from the pilot project to the commercial supply of nuclear fuel from an alternative supplier, Energoatom signed a contract with Westinghouse Electric Sweden for the supply of TVS-W assemblies for three domestic power units every year for four years," Lisnichenko said. "It was decided that South Ukraine 2 and 3 and Zaporozhe 5 would operate with alternative fuel," he added.

The expansion of the contract to include another three units led to Westinghouse fuel being loaded last year into Zaporozhe 1, 3 and 4. "Thus, Westinghouse fuel assemblies operate in the active zones of six of the 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine. We are proud that the South Ukraine plant, which has operated with Westinghouse fuel assemblies for 13 years, was the first in a very important project for the energy security of the state," he said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News