A year of construction
World survey part 2: Russia and CIS25 June 2009
In 2008 the number of nuclear reactors starting construction hit double figures, with China and Russia leading the race. There has been much activity in India, too, after last year’s nuclear cooperation deals. Our World Survey covers recent developments in every country with operating commercial reactors.
The Armenian parliament has approved legislation about building a new nuclear power plant in the country after the first reading. Sergei Kirienko, head of Russia’s nuclear regulator agency Rosatom, has stated that Russia would probably win a tender for the construction of a new 1000MWe nuclear power plant on the site of Armenia’s existing Metsamor plant. Metsamor’s operational unit Armenia 2 first achieved criticality in 1979, and is scheduled to shut down in 2016. Armenia is heavily reliant on the 408MWe unit, generates 40% of the country’s electrical needs. It is under pressure to shut down the first-generation V-270 VVER reactor due to safety concerns, but the authorities have suggested they will not shut the old unit down unless a similar capacity unit is built. The Armenian energy ministry projects that the country would need a 1000MWe reactor by 2016 and another unit after 2020.
Turkey has written to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demanding that something is done to speed up the closure of Armenia 2 and called for more international pressure. The Turkish nuclear agency has claimed that its monitoring stations have detected increased radioactivity levels which it believes are from the Metsamor site. Turkey is also unhappy about Russian aircraft being used to deliver fuel to the plant. The Armenians have responded to the pressure by transferring part of the plant’s shares to Russia.
Meanwhile, the country made an agreement with Russia to join the team proposing an international uranium enrichment centre in Siberia. Armenia now stands alongside Kazakhstan and Russia in the venture to set up an enrichment plant at Russia’s existing Angarsk plant.
In April, a ceremony was held at a new in situ leaching mine with an annual capacity of 750t of uranium in the Kyzyl Orda region.
Kazatomprom said the mine was the first commercially developed for Kazakhstani-Chinese nuclear power cooperation. The mine is operated by the joint venture Semizbai-U and has been created through an accord between Kazatomprom and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company (CGNPC), which was signed in October 2008.
Also in Kyzyl Orda, an inauguration ceremony was held at Khorasan mine, which has a projected annual capacity of 3000t. Work has been carried out by Kyzyl Kum (founded by NAC Kazatomprom), and the Energy Asia consortium, which includes Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Marubeni, Toshiba, Chubu Electric, Tohoku Electric and Kyushu Electric, as well as Canada’s Uranium One.
Kazatomprom and CGNPC have formed a joint venture for new nuclear plants in China. According to their memorandum of understanding, the venture’s expertise will be in construction of nuclear power plants, construction management and development, and construction oversight.
During his working tour of the Central Federal District, on 15 April 2009, prime minister of Russia Vladimir Putin visited Kalinin, where he held a conference on problems of the national nuclear industry. While speaking about the prospects of the nuclear industry Putin said: “The situation in the economy will be changing and the demand for energy will be gradually growing. Experts say that in 2012 we will return to the pre-crisis energy consumption level.”
The development of the nuclear power industry and the nuclear weapons complex is one of Russia’s four primary pilot projects until 2010. “Its implementation will allow us to increase the production of energy at our existing nuclear reactors, to strengthen our leadership in the field of fabrication of nuclear fuel, to introduce the most advanced technologies in the field of disposal of radioactive waste and to carry out a number of other ecological measures.”
The share of nuclear power plants in the total energy production in Russia must be increased to 25%-30% despite the financial crisis. Rosatom’s Kirienko said that in 2008 the Russian nuclear power plants showed an all-time high output of 162.3TWh. It achieved this by enhancing efficiency of existing plants.
He noted that five construction projects are underway for the moment. “In 2009 we are supposed to commission the second unit of Rostov and to continue the construction of the fourth unit of Kalinin (to be launched in 2011), the fourth unit of the unique Beloyarsk plant with the innovative fast breeder reactor BN-800, and the first two units of Novovoronezh 2 and Leningrad 2 (to be launched in 2012 and 2013, respectively),” he said.
In April, Izhorskiye Zavody, a part of OMZ (Uralmash-Izhora Group) announced that it had shipped the frame for a steam generator at the first power generating unit of Novovoronezh 2. Izhorskiye Zavody will manufacture eight steam generators for the second construction stage of the plant.
Putin instructed Rosatom to allocate an additional RUR50 billion ($1.55 billion) for implementation of these priority target projects. Rosatom is also planning to secure an additional RUR26 billion by placing infrastructure bonds issued by Atomenergoprom OJSC under Rosatom’s guarantees.
Rosatom has drafted a federal target programme Nuclear Power Technologies of New Generation.
Putin also met with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Amongst the subjects under discussion was Russia’s bid in a tender to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey (see NEI March 2009, p6).
Japan is to allocate Russia an extra JPY4 billion ($40 million) to dismantle decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines in the Far East. The project, involving some 20 countries, should be completed in the spring of 2010. The funding is being allocated to cranes and the construction of mini-docks in Vladivostok.
A first batch of centrifuge machines was transported to China as part of a contract between Techsnabexport (TENEX) and China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation for the fourth phase of the Chinese gaseous centrifuge plant. The centrifuge machines were manufactured by VPA Tochmash and Kovrov Mechanical Plant.
The first phase of a dry storage facility for irradiated nuclear fuel in Zheleznogorsk, Krasnoyarsk region, is scheduled to receive fuel from RBMK 1000 reactors in 2010. In 2009 the site is due to carry out works to a total cost of about RUR2.2 billion ($65.7m).
An agreement was reached to extend Russia’s loan for Ukraine’s Khmelnitski 3 and 4 VVERs, which the Ukrainian government hopes will allow work to resume on the long-deferred units. Construction originally began in 1987. Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko said that talks had resulted in various agreements including the extension of Russian credit. Up to 85% of the work could be paid for by Russia. Tymoshenko also said that agreements have been signed to allow favourable rates for Ukraine’s nuclear fuel supply for 2009-2010.
In March, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) filed a criminal case against several officials including director general of South Ukrainian nuclear power plant Vissarion Kim for corruption and money laundering.
Meanwhile, president Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus said his country is taking a new view of the Chernobyl accident, which had a significant impact on Belarus. Some 23 years after the accident, Lukashenko said the country has moved from compensating the people affected to developing contaminated areas.
Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, have suggested reducing the list of settlements deemed contaminated. According to officials, over 300 communities can now be removed from the ‘contaminated’ list whereas over 400 could be shifted to a ‘lower contamination’ list.
German firm Nukem has finished a waste treatment plant at Chernobyl and officially handed it over to the plant operators.
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