The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) announced that the first canister of used nuclear fuel had been loaded into the Interim Storage Facilty 2 (ISF-2) at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
“This important milestone represents the culmination of more than 20 years of work at the site,” EBRD noted. The facility is funded by an EBRD-managed international donor fund, the Nuclear Safety Account.
The first loaded double-walled canister contained a total of 93 used fuel assemblies that had been removed from the site’s ageing storage facility, processed and packaged in the new ISF-2 facility. In total, more than 21,000 assemblies from Chernobyl reactors 1, 2 and 3 will be processed over the next eight or more years. The ISF-2 is the largest dry spent fuel storage facility in the world and has a lifespan of a minimum of 100 years.
Balthasar Lindauer, EBRD director, Nuclear Safety, said: “This is a momentous achievement that stands testament to the many days, weeks and years that the EBRD, donors, contractors and Ukraine have dedicated to delivering this critical safety project. We have had to overcome many challenges to reach this point, but it is all the more gratifying that we eventually got there.”
The ISF-2 facility began hot testing earlier this year. The full licence to operate is expected in early 2021. “Important work remains to be completed to secure the full operating licence, expected in early 2021, but the successful testing and loading of the first full fuel load provides all those involved with cause for some celebration,” added Steven White, EBRD associate director, Nuclear Safety.
The Interim Storage Facility 2 cost €400 million ($474m) and was financed with contributions from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UK and the USA. The EBRD manages the international donor community’s funds to transform Chernobyl into a safe and secure environment and has also made financial contributions to this effort.
Photo: First waste canister of spent fuel loaded into new storage facility ISF-2 (Credit: EBRD)