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Unit 1 of Russia’s Leningrad nuclear plant was withdrawn from service on 21 December after 45 years of operation, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom announced.

The RBMK reactor was gradually shut down in accordance with the technological regulations before being disconnected from the national grid. Since the unit was commissioned on 21 December 1973 it has generated 264.9TWh of electricity without experiencing any serious incident, Rosatom said.

Vladimir Pereguda, director of the Leningrad plant, said: "The last stage of the life cycle of any nuclear facility begins with decommissioning. Now, our task is to safely and securely maintain the shutdown unit, unload nuclear fuel from the reactor and prepare all its systems for decommissioning."

Under federal regulations, any Russian nuclear plant is considered to be in operation until all its fuel has been removed, and for Leningrad 1 this is tentatively scheduled for completion in 2023, Rosatom noted. The procedures for the closure of a unit are similar to those for routine repair work and so plant personnel are fully prepared for this task, it added.

Andrey Petrov, general director of nuclear utility Rosenergoatom noted that unit 1 of the new Leningrad-II NPP, a VVER-1200 had been put into operation ahead of the retirement of Leningrad 1, an RMBK.

"Compared with RBMK units, the newly commissioned units have a number of advantages: they are equipped with the most modern security systems, they are 20% more powerful, the design life of the main equipment is twice as long at 60 years," he said.

The Leningrad nuclear units, with an installed capacity of 4200 MWe,  provides more than 50% of the energy consumption of St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, Rosatom noted.

The Soviet-designed RBMK reactor is a pressurised water-cooled reactor with individual fuel channels which uses graphite as its moderator. It was developed from a design intended principally for plutonium production. Leningrad was the first plant with RBMK-1000 reactors. In the 45 years since unit 1 was commissioned, ten more RBMK-1000 units put into operation at Leningrad (three more units), Kursk (four units) and Smolensk  (three units). Together, they account for almost 30% of Russia’s nuclear generation.

The design life of the RBMK-1000 was 30 years, but after a large-scale modernisation programme, the service life of the four Leningrad units  was extended for 15 years. The  second unit of the  Leningrad-II NPP, also a generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactor, will be commissioned  in early 2021, according to plant director Vladimir Peregud. This is intended to precede closure of the Leningrad 2 RBMK.

Photo: Leningrad 1, an RMBK reactor was permanently shut down on 21st December 2018

Date: Wednesday, 02 January 2019
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