Russia’s Beloyarsk NPP in the Sverdlovsk Region. has received a positive opinion from the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources, Rosprirodnadzor, for siting of the new BN-1200M power unit.

The BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast reactor is planned to be built as unit 5 of the Beloyarsk NPP. Two similar but smaller units are currently operating at the plant – unit 3 with a BN-600 fast neutron reactor, which started up in 1980 and unit 4 with a BN-800 fast reactor, which started up in 2015. These are the world’s largest units with fast neutron reactors and the only ones operating on a commercial basis. The BN-1200 will break these records.

Rosatom plans to obtain a licence for the construction for the BN-1200 in 2027. Construction of Beloyarsk 5 is scheduled for 2035. Earlier Valery Shamansky, Deputy Chief Engineer for Safety & Reliability at Beloyarsk NPP said Rosatom’s roadmap for the construction the unit had been approved. “During 2023, we plan to transfer the materials of the investment project for the capital expenditures of the Rosenergoatom concern. In 2024, we plan to develop design of the structure. Public discussions and a positive environmental review are planned for 2025,” he added. All design work should be completed in 2025, and construction will begin at the end of 2026-2027.

Rosprirodnadzor has now studied the materials of the licence justification submitted for the state environmental review, including materials on an environmental impact assessment. The environmental aspects contained in them, and the results of the studies prove that the safety requirements for the placement of the BN-1200M reactor have been met at a high level, there is no significant impact on the environment, and the facility meets the requirements of sanitary-hygienic and environmental legislation. Earlier, participants in public hearings held in November 2023 came to similar conclusions (holding hearings is a mandatory stage preceding state environmental review).

Now the entire package of documents has been passed on to the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological & Nuclear Supervision, Rostekhnadzor for examination. Based on its results, the Beloyarsk NPP expects to receive a construction licence for the new unit.

Rosatom is developing technologies for the transition to a competitive two-component energy system based on a closed nuclear fuel cycle by pairing the operation of traditional VVER thermal neutron power reactors with fast neutron reactors. VVER used fuel can be recycled for use in the fast reactors, which can also burn dangerous radionuclides produced during reprocessing (minor actinides), thereby significantly reducing waste volumes.