Work suspended at Belarus NPP after accident

9 August 2016

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom believes that the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) housing at unit 1 of the Belarusian NPP, was not damaged when it fell a few metres to the ground during a trial installation. However, Rosatom said it will replace it with the RPV housing for unit 2 if the customer (RUP Belarusian NPP) decides it is necessary. In any event, the incident is expected to delay the construction schedule by a few months. While in Minsk have not decided whether or not to require replacement: it could at least move the construction time for a few months.

Rosatom First Deputy Director General Alexander Lokshin said the incident did not cause damage to personnel, equipment and the environment. He added that the worst that occurred was erasing of the paint on the body of the unit caused by the friction of the metal sling that was holding it. The maximum load on the unit was many times less than what was permissible and half of the load experienced during continuous normal operation over 60 years. Experts at chief designer OKB Gidropress and manufacturer Atommash conducted tests   including ultrasonic metal flaw detection and control of the welded joints.

According to Kommersant, quoting people familiar with the situation, the incident occurred on the night of 9-10 July as the unit was being loaded ready for installation. However the sling holding it was too week and the RPV housing slid down and touched the ground. But there was no fall or heavy impact. Kommersant’s sources identified the subcontractor responsible for the loading as Sesame, a company registered in Udomlya (near Russia’s Kalinin NPP) with a branch in Ostravets – the site of the Belarus NPP. The deputy head of the Belarus Ministry of Energy, Mikhail Mikhadyuk, the employees of the subcontractor involved had been suspended. 

The RPV housing for unit 2 will be ready by October if Belarus decides it is necessary to replace the housing for unit 1. The unit 1 building was checked after the incident and is ready for installation if it is decided to go ahead. However, Mikhadyuk, deputy minister of energy of Belarus, told journalists in Minsk on 1 August that installation has been suspended pending further investigations. RUP Belorusskaya NPP will then consider the results and submit the materials to regulator Gosatomnadzor of Belarus for a final decision. 

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