Construction of Ukraine's used fuel storage facility to start in March

19 October 2016

The "active phase" of construction work on a central used fuel storage facility (CSFSF) at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is expected to start in March 2017, Oleksandr Rybchuk, general director of Atomprojectengineering said.

Holtec-EnergoAtom - October 2016 - 460  (EnergoAtom)
Holtec's Singh and EnergoAtom's Nedashkovsky (Image: EnergoAtom)

The CSFSF will be a dry storage facility in which the used fuel will be stored in double-walled stainless steel canisters. These are themselves loaded within protective concrete modular systems designed to provide physical protection, radiation shielding and passive heat removal.

Atomprojectengineering is a subsidiary of Ukraine's state-run nuclear power plant operator EnergoAtom, and Rybchuk's comments were included in an Energoatom statement yesterday that gave an update on cooperation with US company Holtec International to build the CSFSF.

He said the Ukrainian regulator had recently received the safety evaluation report on the CSFSF and is expected to give its response "within a month". In the meantime, EnergoAtom is preparing to receive Holtec equipment for the management of used nuclear fuel at Ukrainian nuclear power plants. Loading the first batch of used nuclear fuel into Holtec's HI-STORM container system for transport to the CSFSF will take place at the end of 2018, he added.

Rybchuk spoke at a meeting between the presidents of EnergoAtom and Holtec, Yury Nedashkovsky and Chris Singh, held on 17 October to coincide with EnergoAtom's 20th anniversary.

Addressing Singh, Nedashkovsky said: "We are very pleased that our strategic partners are with us on the day marking EnergoAtom's twentieth year. I note that, for the anniversary, Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers has given us a welcome gift by providing land for construction of the CSFSF and railway access."

Singh noted that Holtec's cooperation with EnergoAtom spanned 13 years. "In all this time I have not stopped being surprised by the quality of training and level of skill of Ukrainian nuclear specialists."

During the meeting, Rybchuk and Holtec International vice president Riaz Awan signed an additional agreement to the existing contract for Holtec's supply of equipment for the CSFSF. The equipment will be used for handling used nuclear fuel at Ukrainian nuclear power units.

Ukraine currently spends $200 million each year on its arrangement with Russia to transport and reprocess used nuclear fuel. EnergoAtom and Holtec signed a contract for construction of the CSFSF in 2004, but the project was repeatedly stalled owing to changes to the political situation in Ukraine. Work on the project resumed in 2014.

In March, the Cabinet of Ministers announced its intention to approve by the end of this year project-design documentation for construction of the CSFSF at the site of the Chernobyl exclusion zone. On 12 October, it allocated plots of land with a total area of 45.2 hectares for the proposed facility.

Holtec signed the contract it won in a tender to build the CSFSF in 2005. Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, in 2012 adopted a law on the siting, design and construction of the facility to store used fuel from Ukraine's Russian-built VVER nuclear power reactors.

In January, EnergoAtom and Holtec signed an amendment to the contract to build the CSFSF at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and supply used nuclear fuel dry cask storage systems. The CSFSF will receive used nuclear fuel from nine of the country's 15 reactors - seven VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s - located at Rivne, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky. The Zaporozhe nuclear power plant operates its own on-site used fuel storage facility that was commissioned in 2001.

The amendment means that EnergoAtom is responsible for the civil design and construction of the facility, while Holtec is responsible for the design and supply of used nuclear fuel dry storage, transport and related equipment. The equipment will be delivered by the end of 2020, with the "key developmental stage" set as 2015-2017. During this period, the design and construction of the storage facility will be completed, Holtec's equipment and technology will be installed and the CSFSF will be commissioned. Holtec will supply 94 used nuclear fuel storage systems for the facility.

In October last year, EnergoAtom announced that the technology for the production of dry storage casks for used nuclear fuel will be transferred by Holtec International to Ukraine's Turboatom under a memorandum of understanding signed by the two companies and EnergoAtom. The agreement acknowledges the transfer of technologies for the manufacture of Holtec's HI-STORM used fuel storage casks to Turboatom. The projected cost of Turboatom's services to Holtec could reach $200 million over the next ten years, including some $60 million for equipment for the CSFSF, EnergoAtom said.

Holtec delivered the first batch of the casks to the Chernobyl site the following month.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News