The Russian government has approved plans to extend the operating life of 12 first- generation VVER-440 reactors. Previously, the intention was to replace the older units – which have a combined capacity of 5762MWe – as they reached the end of their design operational lifetimes over the next 5 years with new third-generation plants.

However, Minatom says plans for new plants have been curtailed because of economic difficulties. “Many years of operation of first-generation VVER-440s have shown their high reliability and confirmed the correct choice of safety design principles used in these units,” Minatom said. The first units to come to the end of their design life will be Novovoronezh 3 and 4, and Kola 1 and 2. They will be followed by Leningrad 1 and 2 with a design life due to expire in 2003 and 2005 respectively.

Both Leningrad units have undergone the first stage of modernisation, with the work at unit 1 costing around $290 million. A major safety enhancement programme was carried out on Russia’s first-generation units between 1992 and 1999 at a total cost of around $70 million, including $23 million in international technical assistance.