Ukraine confident of world-class fuel storage facility

17 May 2017

Energoatom President Yury Nedashkovsky has confirmed progress in Holtec International's preparations to build a Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Between 1 and 10 May, Nedashkovsky led a delegation from the Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator to Holtec's plants in Pittsburgh, (Pennsylvania), Orrville (Ohio) and Camden (New Jersey).

The CSFSF will be a dry storage facility in which the used fuel will be stored in double-walled stainless steel canisters. The facility will mean Ukraine will no longer have to spend $200 million each year on its arrangement with Russia to transport and reprocess used nuclear fuel.

In an Energoatom statement issued on 15 May, Nedashkovsky said the trip had confirmed the high quality of Holtec's production base and its ability to transfer that expertise to the CSFSF project. He noted that the facility will store used nuclear fuel from three Ukrainian nuclear power plants: Khmelnitsky, Rovno and South Ukraine.

"We're very pleased with what we saw. The quality of the individual items of equipment that have already been manufactured by the American specialists for our order convincingly demonstrates that Ukraine will receive one of the most modern and safest storage facilities for used nuclear fuel in the world," he said.

At the Orrville plant, Holtec introduced the Ukrainian delegation to the production of friction-stir welded fuel baskets made of Metamic HT, an aluminium boron carbide metal matrix composite. The welds do not suffer from distortion typically seen with conventional welding processes. Holtec first unveiled the fuel basket design for fast-track decommissioning in January. Holtec said then that the basket has over ten times the thermal conductivity of conventional stainless steel fuel baskets, which shortens the required cooling period of the used fuel, prior to transfer to dry storage, from about seven years to two-and-a-half years. This would enable a shuttered plant site to be returned to its pre-plant state within about 66 months after the reactor's shutdown, the company said.

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 January 2016, 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 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 2015, 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