Unit 2 at Russia’s Leningrad II NPP (LNPP-II) has been fully loaded with 163 dummy fuel assemblies for pre-commissioning testing.
The assemblies replicate the design of standard fuel assemblies by weight, size and the materials of which they are made (except for nuclear fuel). LNPP-II chief engineer Alexander Belyaev explained that, using the dummy assemblies, it was possible to test transfer of the fuel from special storage to the reactor building “and we were convinced of the reliable operation and accuracy of the loading machine”. He added: “We rehearsed the beginning of a physical start-up when fuel assemblies with fresh nuclear fuel are loaded into the reactor core. This is scheduled for March 2020. ”
The assembly simulators will remain in the reactor pressure vessel until the beginning of next year. They are necessary to confirm the geometry of the reactor core, the circulation of the primary circuit and the hot run the reactor plant. During these inspections, specialists will finally confirm the cleanliness of the internal surfaces of pipelines and primary equipment, check them for density and test the operability of technological systems in design conditions.
Leningrad II-1 was connected to the grid in March 2018, becoming the second VVER-1200 reactor to start up, following the launch in 2016 of Novovoronezh 6. Concreting of the inner containment structure of Leningrad II-2 was completed in February. The original Leningrad nuclear plant in Sosnovy Bor had four RBMK-1000 units, which will be replaced at Leningrad II with four VVER-1200 units. Leningrad unit 1 was shut down for decommissioning in December 2018 following the start up of the first unit at LNPP-II.