Photo: Leningrad II-2 is ready for physical startup (Photo credit: Rosenergoatom)Unit 2 of Russia's Leningrad II nuclear power plant (LNPP-II) is ready for physical startup, following completion of 204  tests performed during the cold-hot break-in phase.

Specialists examined all the equipment, inspected and assessed its condition, performed pre-operational control of the metal of the reactor vessel, steam generators, tanks of the emergency core cooling system, welded joints of the main circulation pipeline and system pipelines important for the safety of the unit. The results of numerous inspections confirm that the unit is completely ready for loading nuclear fuel, Rosenergoatom said.

“The audit showed that all the equipment had successfully worked at operating parameters and was ready for the start of the physical startup,” said LNPP-II chief engineer Alexander Belyaev.

As part of the audit, the experts also unloaded the fuel assembly simulators from the reactor core, assessed their condition, checked the internals and internal reactor control systems, and fully performed boron flushing.

The physical startup phase can now begin, during which 163 fuel assemblies with fuel will be loaded into the reactor core.

During 2020, the VVER-1200 unit will go through the stages of energy start-up, pilot production operation and final comprehensive testing at rated power. The commissioning of the Leningrad II-2 is scheduled for early 2021.

Belyaev also said the highest cooling tower in the northwest of Russia had been commissioned at the Leningrad II plant. The 167-metre-high structure will provide water cooling in the circulating water supply systems of the Leningrad NPP for 60 years.

“The tower is 17 metres taller than the two cooling towers which serve LNPP-II unit 1. The design solution will significantly reduce capital costs, energy consumption for domestic needs, as well as reducing the area of the industrial nuclear power plant site while maintaining all the requirements of technology and safety,” Belyaev explained.

Evaporative cooling towers operate as part of a cooling system for nuclear power units. Water circulates in a closed circuit, taking away excess heat from the cooled units. And cooling towers, like water bodies, dissipate the excess heat of water. In this case, the water returns to the cycle of the cooling system. This minimises the environmental impact, and, in addition, reduces the cost of pumping and water treatment.

Leningrad II, with four VVER-1200 reactors, will replace the existing Leningrad power plant which hosts four ageing 1000MWe RBMK units. Leningrad 1 was withdrawn from service in December 2018 after 45 years of operation, once Leningrad II-1 had been commissioned.

Photo: Leningrad II-2 is ready for physical startup (Photo credit: Rosenergoatom)