Engineers at the Kola nuclear power plant are working on a programme to prolong the life-time of its two oldest reactors after the management of the plant decided it will not be possible to complete the construction of a planned second station at the site in the coming five or six years.
At present, Kola operates four VVER-440 reactors, commissioned in 1973, 1974, 1981 and 1984. The two oldest reactors were due to be shut down in 2003 and 2004. However, with only limited funds available, Rosenergoatom is giving priority to finishing the partly completed reactors at the Rostov, Kalinin and Kursk nuclear power plants, says Kola chief engineer, Vasili Omelchuk. “As for new nuclear power plants, attention is concentrated on the prototype of a new generation reactor being built in Sosnovy Bor,” he adds.
According to Omelchuk, Ros-energoatom currently provides only minimal funding for construction of the second station which means that the present units must continue to operate. “This year we’ll complete a number of tasks to ensure the safety of the two oldest reactors. We plan to spend some $14 million on this,” he says.
A mobile diesel generator delivered by Norway has been put into operation, and a liquid radwaste processing facility as well as a mobile facility to provide emergency water supply to the reactors are under construction. A diagnostic centre, also provided by Norway, with equipment to detect malfunctions in operating reactors, has been commissioned. This equipment should reduce the number of unscheduled shutdowns.
Kola is set to invite tenders for outfitting the two oldest reactors with new equipment. The project, which should cost $84 million, is scheduled to be completed within a few years. The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development has allocated $21 million.