Russia’s new nuclear power programme approved

28 February 1998

Russia is to boost its nuclear generating capacity over the next 13 years under a programme approved by the government in December. According to Atomic Energy Minister, Viktor Mikhailov, who presented the programme to members of the government, nuclear power plant capacity is to be increased from the 1997 figure of 21.2 MWe to 24.24 MWe by 2000, 26.88 MWe by 2005 and 27.56-29.2 MWe by 2010.

Mikhailov said the main points of the programme included improving plant safety and implementing measures to extend their operational lifetime. Work will continue to complete partially built reactors at the Kalinin, Kursk, and Rostov stations. In addition, the South Urals nuclear plant would be built “with a fast reactor [BN-800] that will help solve the environmental problems of the region and will consume weapons-derived plutonium”. The industry would also lay the foundations for establishing a closed fuel cycle with the new generation reactors.

Mikhailov said the programme would “improve the structure of Russia’s power balance, especially in its European region, will make consumers use electricity more thriftily, will help resolve several strategic tasks, including Russia’s power security and expansion of the export of nuclear power technology based on new-generation reactors”.

Prime Minister Viktor Cherno-myrdin told the meeting he was a “dedicated advocate” of the development of nuclear energy, but added it was necessary to ensure tough safety precautions and to properly guard these most important facilities. “If we stop, we shall put future generations in a very difficult predicament,” he warned.

The new programme will be funded mainly by nuclear plants and “other facilities” using nuclear fuel. Mikhailov said approximately 93% of the required funding will come from the plants themselves, and a mere 7% from the federal budget. He added that today $150 million is spent annually on safety upgrades. He said Russia currently produced 3000 t of natural uranium per year, and that output will grow to 10 000-12 000 t over the next 10 years. A total of 52.9 billion new roubles are to be invested in the industry by 2005, of which the federal budget will provide just 3.6 billion.

n 10th nuclear station to start up The final phase of the construction of the Rostov nuclear station has begun and its single reactor could come on stream before the end of this year, according to Yevgeny Ignatenko, director-general of the operator, Rosenergoatom. Rostov will be the 10th nuclear station and the first new nuclear plant to be commissioned in Russia since before the Chernobyl disaster. There are at present 29 operating reactors at nine nuclear stations.

An unofficial moratorium on the construction of nuclear plants was introduced after the 1986 accident. The only exception was made when the fourth reactor at Balakovo was commissioned in 1994. Two further reactors will also be commissioned during 1999, the fifth unit at Kursk, and the third unit at Kalinin.

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