Iran began loading fuel assemblies into the core of its Busheher nuclear power plant on 8 April 2011, according to Russia’s Atomstroyexport (ASE). ASE, which is building the 1000MWe VVER-1000 plant, says that soon the reactor will be assembled, primary and secondary equipment will be tested and the reactor will be brought to the minimum controlled power.
Bushehr nuclear power plant was initially due to start-up in late 2010. Fuel loading first began in August of that year and was completed in December 2010 after delays. In February 2011, engineers at the Bushehr plant announced plans to unload fuel from the reactor.
The fuel unloading from the Bushehr reactor was a necessary precaution after the Russian specialists had found damages of internals of a cooldown pump. The assumption was that metal particles (predominantly chips of less than 3 mm in size) could have entered the reactor pressure vessel with water. To avoid potential consequences of the particles getting on the fuel assemblies, they were unloaded and washed, while the reactor pressure vessel was cleaned.
In a statement ASE said that the pump failure was due to its design features. As a result of the inspection, similar deficiencies were eliminated at other pumps. These pumps are part of the equipment supplied to Bushehr NPP site in the 1970s. According to the contract, the Russian side was obliged to integrate them in the project.
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