US-based Westinghouse Electric Company (part of Japan's Toshiba) has been awarded a contract by Czech national utility CEZ to supply six lead test assemblies (LTAs) for the Czech Republic's Temelín NPP. Westinghouse said the contract "is consistent with industry licensing and development standards for new fuel types to be inserted into operating reactors". Temelin's reactors are Russian designed VVER-1000s. A previous use of Westinghouse fuel caused a series of technical problems causing CEZ to cut short its contract with Westinghouse and revert to fuel supplied by Russian fuel company Tvel.
Westinghouse said: "Temelín has a unique fuel design operating currently and therefore careful testing with limited fuel introduction over a period of two years is required to ensure safe compatibility with existing fuel. Similar trials are underway in Ukraine, which had also earlier experienced problems with Westinghouse fuel, which has now been redesigned.
Under the terms of the contract, Westinghouse will manufacture the LTAs at its facility in Västerås, Sweden. Westinghouse senior vice-president for nuclear fuel and components manufacturing José Emeterio Gutiérrez said the decision by CEZ to launch an LTA programme for Temelín "is significant (and) demonstrates that CEZ is serious about taking measures to improve its security of supply and through a diversification of its nuclear fuel sources". The European Union has been urging countries with VVER reactors to diversify their fuel supplies away from dependence on Russia. CEZs current 10-year contract for fuel supplies from Tvel ends in 2020.