Ukraine presses on with used fuel storage facility

19 May 2017

Yury Nedashkovsky, president of Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom has confirmed progress in US Holtec International's preparations to build a Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) at the site of the Chernobyl NPP, following a visit to Holtec's plants in the USA from 1-10May. In an Energoatom statement issued on 15 May, Nedashkovsky said the trip had confirmed the high quality of Holtec's production base and its ability to transfer that expertise to the CSFSF project. He noted that the facility will store used nuclear fuel from three Ukrainian nuclear power plants: Khmelnitsky, Rovno and South Ukraine. Fuel from the Zaporozhe NPP is stored on site at a purpose built dry storage facility, which opened in 2001.

Energoatom and Holtec signed a contract for construction of the CSFSF in 2004, but the project was repeatedly stalled owing to changes to the political situation in Ukraine. Work on the project resumed in 2014. In January 2016, Energoatom and Holtec signed an amendment to the contract making Energoatom responsible for the civil design and construction of the facility, and Holtec is responsible for the design and supply of used nuclear fuel dry storage, transport and related equipment. The equipment will be delivered by the end of 2020, with the "key developmental stage" set as 2015-2017. During this period, the design and construction of the storage facility will be completed, Holtec's equipment and technology will be installed and the CSFSF will be commissioned. Holtec will supply 94 used nuclear fuel storage systems for the facility. The CSFSF will store used fuel in double-walled stainless steel canisters.

In October 2015, Energoatom announced that the technology for the production of dry storage casks for used nuclear fuel will be transferred by Holtec International to Ukraine's Turboatom under a memorandum of understanding signed with the two companies. The agreement acknowledges the transfer of technologies for the manufacture of Holtec's HI-STORM used fuel storage casks to Turboatom. The projected cost of Turboatom's services to Holtec could reach $200m over the next 10 years, including some $60m for equipment, Energoatom said.

Pending completion of the CSFSF, used fuel from the South Ukraine, Rovno and Khmelnitsky NPPs is either stored on site or sent to Russia for processing and storage under an intergovernmental agreement concluded in January 1993. After 20 years high level waste from processing the used fuel should be returned to Ukraine.  This should have begun in 2013, but as Ukraine had no facilities to store the waste, it was deferred until 2018.  Arrangements provide for import into Russia of such fuel in temporary storage and processing and then return to Ukraine of vitrified high-level waste (HLW). Ukraine says storage and processing of used fuel in Russia is costing $200m a year and that the CSFSF will end the need for Russia’s services.

If is not clear where Ukraine plans to store the HLW which will be returned from Russia after 2018. Some reports suggest it will go to the CSFSF, while others mention other storage facilities which are being built in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. These include the Chernobyl Dry Storage (ISF-2) project intended to take fuel from the decommissioned Chernobyl reactors. The $411m facility, funded in part through the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development’s Nuclear Safety Account, was begun in 1999 by French company Framatome (now Areva). However the contract was suspended in 2005 and the project was subsequently handed to Holtec. It was due to be completed in 2018, but Holtec says hostilities in the east have set back the schedule. Also at Chernobyl, Nukem has constructed an Industrial Complex for Solid Radwaste Management (ICSRM) which was handed over in April 2009. There is also a low-level waste repository built at the Vektor complex.



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