Belarus NPP RPV to be replaced

16 August 2016

Belarusian Energy Minister Vladimir Potupchik said on 11 August that the Russian-built reactor pressure vessel (RPV) that was involved in last month's accident at the construction site for the Belarusian NPP should be replaced. "A decision to replace it has already been made," Russia's news agency TASS quoted him as saying in Tyumen, Russia. He said the replacement cost was being discussed with Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.

The Belarus regulator Gosatomnadzor (GAN) also confirmed “the formal decision on replacement of the reactor vessel at Belarus NPP”. Oleg Sobolev head of communications and public information at GAN told journalists that GAN had reviewed documentation on the incident and had decided to ban use of the RPV at the NPP site. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenka said earlier that Belarus would insist on having the RPV replaced even if only minimal damage was found.

On 1 August, Rosatom said that the 330t RPV for unit 1 had slipped down slowly as it was being moved and touched the ground in the 10 July accident. Rosatom insisted that the equipment had not been damaged but said it was still ready to replace the equipment if required, noting that it would delay the project.

The Belarusian NPP under construction in Ostravets District, Gomel Region, will have two 1,200MWe reactors scheduled to begin operation in November 2018 and July 2020. Atomstroyexport (ASE), a subsidiary of Rosatom, has overall responsibility for the project as the prime contractor. However, Rosatom pointed out that subcontractor Sezam, which is not part of Rosatom, had “allowed the abnormal situation with the reactor vessel to occur”.

Meanwhile, stress test of Belarus NPP will be conducted in line with the European methodology and in accordance with International Atomic Energy Agency standards, ASE said on August 10. The studies will be complted by the end of the year. Russia’s Atomproekt, OKB Gidropress and NRC Kurchatov Institute will take part in the tests as well as “one of the leading European organisations specialising in integrated safety analysis of NPPs taking into account post-Fukushima safety requirements”. In addition, an analysis will be carried out to improve the robustness of the future plant to beyond design basis accidents induced by extreme external impacts, ASE added. 

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