US-based Holtec International said this week that it is starting final testing of the dry-storage facility for used nuclear fuel at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine.
Nukcear utility Energoatom and Holtec started construction of the Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) at the Chernobyl site in November 2017. It will receive used nuclear fuel seven VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s – located at Rovno, South Ukraine and Khmelnitsky. The six-unit Zaporozhe nuclear plant has had its own on-site used fuel storage facility since 2001.
The CSFSF is dry storage facility in which the used fuel will be stored in double-walled stainless steel canisters.
“These functional dry runs follow a long series of exhaustive tests of the individual systems, structures and components within the spent nuclear fuel processing and storage complex called ISF-2,” Holtec said in a press release.
The tests are expected to take two months to complete, and Chernobyl NPP will then initiate commissioning of the facility beginning with 'hot' confirmatory tests. The storage facility will ultimately hold over 21,000 used fuel assemblies.
Since 2011, Holtec has been tasked with completing construction and repair of the dry-storage facility, which was originally contracted to Areva (then Framatome) in 1999 before being abandoned in 2003. The contract was suspended in 2005 amid mutual recriminations by Framatome and Energoatom. “We were handed a facility full of defective equipment that had deteriorated for lack of any maintenance for nearly a decade,” Holtec Project Manager Michael Pence said in the release.
The principal contractors working on the project are Ukraine's UTEM, Germany's BNG and Italy's Maloni. The work, supported by the Nuclear Safety Account managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will provide for the processing and storage of the used nuclear fuel from Chernobyl 1-3, which is needed for decommissioning. The facility is scheduled to enter full operation in 2020.
Photo: The ISF-2 facility (Credit: Holtec International)