Nuclear fuel for unit 1 of the Belarus nuclear power plant has arrived at the site, the Belarus Energy Ministry said on 6 May.
The initial load for the VVER-1200 reactor will comprise 163 fuel assemblies. Rosatom said the Russian-made fuel assemblies are currently being prepared for unloading and inspection.
In line with regulatory requirements, all the facilities at Belarus 1 were transferred to the protection of internal troops before the fuel arrived. Specialists from the nuclear power plant together with the general contractor – Russia’s Atomstroyexport (ASE) will verify acceptance of fuel.
“The initial delivery of fresh nuclear fuel is a significant event at the stage of construction of each nuclear facility, especially for the Republic of Belarus, which did it for the first time for its first power unit of the Belarusian NPP. In fact, this is the moment of the countdown before putting the unit into operation,” said Vitaliy Polyanin vice president of ASE IC JSC, and director of the Belarusian NPP Construction Project.
Polyanin said Rosatom worked with Belarus' Ministry of Emergency Situations and nuclear regulator Gosatomnadzor to ensure the necessary conditions for fuel delivery were met.
This work involved ensuring the necessary facilities, systems and equipment, including emergency and physical protection installations, had been put into operation to ensure the safe delivery and storage of fresh nuclear fuel.
The Ostrovets nuclear plant, being built by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom will have two generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactor units. Hot testing at has been completed, and unit 1 is ready to load fuel, ASE said.
In April the plant received permission from the Gosatomnadzor to import nuclear fuel. The start-up dates of the first power unit have been postponed several times. Unit 1 was previously expected to begin operation in 2018. Now it is planned for later this year.
The project continues to draw protest from Lithuania. In May, the Lithuanian Seimas called on the government to take measures to prevent electricity from Belarus from entering the Lithuanian market. On 5 May, the Sejm adopted a resolution on the alleged threat posed by the plant.
“The government is proposing to achieve the imposition of sanctions by the allies of Lithuania against the operator of the nuclear power plant and other intermediary companies that are involved in the construction and sale of dirty electricity of the nuclear power plant,” it said.
Photo: Nuclear fuel has been delivered for unit 1 of the Belarus nuclear power plant (Photo: AtomStroyExport)