Installation of equipment has begun at the construction site of the dry storage facility for used nuclear fuel Phase II (SNFS-2) at Chernobyl NPP in Ukraine. In the building housing the installation for preparing used fuel for storage the lifting gear for fuel cartridges (FC) is being installed, a Chernobyl plant statement said on 10 June. FCs are part of a double-wall dry shielded storage tube (DDST) for storage of RBMK-1000 used fuel. Installation of the hot cell sliding holder in SNFS-2 is expected to start shortly. US company Holtec International is the designer and producer of DDST. SNFS-2 is expected to be completed in 2017.

Earlier, removal of nuclear fuel from the Chernobyl reactors was completed. On 6 June, the last damaged fuel assembly was unloaded from the used fuel pool at unit 1 and moved to wet storage (SNFS-1), the plant said. Intact fuel was moved from unit 1 to SNFS-1 in September 2013. Undamaged used fuel was removed from unit 2 in November 2012 and damaged fuel in late April 2016. The status of units 1 and 2 will now be changed from "nuclear installations" to "facilities for radioactive waste management". Unit 3 was defuelled in 2010 and in December 2012 it became "a facility for radioactive waste management".

SNFS-1 will remain a "nuclear installation". The long delay in completing SNFS-2 made it necessary to use SNFS-1 as the main place of SNF storage, Chernobyl plant said.

This new status of units 1 and 2 will enable work to "speed up on dismantling equipment and the plant’s decommissioning. Accelerating the pace of this work will help Chernobyl NPP to reduce operating costs and thus alleviate the "burden" on the Ukrainian budget, which is partly funding the work. The plant noted.

The Nuclear Safety Account, managed by the London-headquartered European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, funds the construction of a storage facility for used nuclear fuel from the operation of the plant. The main project currently supported by the fund is SNFS-2. The facility will provide for the processing and storage of the used nuclear fuel from units 1, 2 and 3. It will store all the used fuel on the site for at least 100 years.