Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator, Energoatom, is conducting the final pre-commissioning trials of the Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The company's acting president recently inspected simulation tests of the removal of nuclear fuel from unit 3 of the Rovno nuclear power plant using technology supplied by Holtec International of the USA. The transfer of fuel to the CSFSF is scheduled to begin next year.

A HI-STAR 190 Transport Cask with impact limiters on a specially-designed Holtec-supplied rail car at the Rovno plant (Image: Holtec)

Energoatom and Holtec started construction of the CSFSF in November 2017. It will receive used nuclear fuel from nine of Ukraine's 15 reactors - seven VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s - located at Rovno, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky. The Zaporozhe nuclear power plant operates its own on-site used fuel storage facility that was commissioned in 2001.

The CSFSF will be a dry storage facility in which the used fuel will be stored in double-walled stainless steel canisters. It is designed to have a total storage capacity of 16,530 used fuel assemblies, including 12,010 VVER-1000 assemblies and 4520 VVER-440 assemblies. Vitrified high-level waste from the reprocessing of Ukrainian fuel will be returned from Russia to be stored in the CSFSF as well. The new facility will mean Ukraine will no longer have to spend USD200 million annually on its arrangement with Russia to transport and reprocess used nuclear fuel.

The initial contract agreement provided for 90 storage systems, five transport casks, three transfer casks, five rail cars, and an array of ancillary equipment. All equipment needed to complete the first loading operation has now been delivered to Ukraine.

Holtec said some of the major equipment it has supplied includes the HI-STORM 190 vertical ventilated storage system, the HI-STAR 190 universal transport cask, the HI-TRAC 190 transfer cask, and equipment to load, dehydrate and weld the double-walled multi-purpose canisters at each operating plant site.

The dried and welded canisters will be transported from the plant sites in the HI-STAR 190 transport casks to the CSFSF where they will then be placed in HI-STORM 190 vertical ventilated systems for storage.

In August, Energoatom announced that the first stage of the CSFSF was ready for operation, citing an approval from the Architectural and Construction Inspectorate of Ukraine.

On 6 November, Petro Kotin, Energoatom's acting president, oversaw demonstration tests for the handling of a HI-TRAC 190 transfer cask at Rovno unit 3. During the visit to the plant, he said Energoatom, along with Holtec, is completing the preparation of the necessary equipment and infrastructure for the removal and transportation of used fuel to the CSFSF, which is ready to accept the first batch from Rovno 3.

Energoatom said similar tests will soon be conducted at the Khmelnitsky and South Ukraine plants. It added that the next step is to obtain the appropriate licence from the country's nuclear regulator for the entire complex of works. The company said the export of used nuclear fuel to Russia will continue "in the coming months".

"The soon-to-be-commissioned CSFSF is a fitting symbol of Ukraine's resolve to achieve complete operational independence in regard to management of its spent fuel discharged by the country's fleet of reactors and provide a safe and economic solution for long-term management of used nuclear fuel at its domestic centralised storage facility," said Holtec's Vice President of Ukraine Operations Riaz Awan.

Holtec said the start of operation of the CSFSF "will vault Ukraine to the rank of elite nations in the field of long-term stewardship of used nuclear fuel, which many consider to be a necessary predicate for the renaissance of nuclear energy in a country in need of retiring its aging fossil power plants."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 19 November 2021
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