Russian nuclear utility Rosenergoatom has signed a long-term contract with Canada’s Nordion to supply cobalt-60 until 2034.
Currently cobalt-60 is produced in Russia only at the Leningrad NPP which hosts RBMK-1000 reactors which can produce the isotope without any effects on power output. Leningrad NPP has been producing cobalt-60 for more than 20 years and currently has a contract to supply Nordion until 2024, when the plant is scheduled to be shut down.
Under the new contract Russia will extend cobalt-60 production to the Smolensk and Kursk NPPs, which also have RBMK reactors. Currently the NPPs are applying for the necessary approvals and Smolensk is preparing to load the first batch of cobalt absorbers at unit 1.
Russia is also planning to produce cobalt-60 using fast reactors and preparatory procedures for this are underway with a view to using the BN-600 and BN-800 reactors at the Beloyarsk NPP. Documentation is being developed to substantiate the safety of the project and cobalt-60 production at the BN-600 reactor (Beloyarsk 3) could begin in 2018.