Russia’s AECC wins contract to decommission mothballed installations at VNIINM

7 July 2020

Russia’s Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant (AECC) in Irkutsk has signed a state contract for the decommissioning of the U-5 installation at  the AA Bochvar Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (VNIINM) in Moscow. Both companies are part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s Fuel Company TVEL.

The project is being implemented as part of the Federal Target Programme "Ensuring Nuclear and Radiation Safety for 2016 - 2020 and for the Period Until 2030" (FTP-YaRB). The customer is Rosatom and the value of the contract is more than RUB141.5 million ($2m).

As well as the U-5 installation the contract covers decommissioning of radioactive contamination sites No. 2 and No. 9 as well as research buildings.

The U-5 installation is a bench prototype for radiochemical plants. The building was commissioned in 1945 to conduct experimental work using various nuclear materials, radioactive substances and sources of ionising radiation. In particular, studies were conducted at U-5 to refine the technological process for the separation and purification of plutonium fission fragments necessary to create domestic nuclear weapons. It was mothballed in 1965.

The building housing the U-5 installation is located in a separate annex adjacent to Building A (where decommissioning is also planned) and consists of 37 rooms on four floors.

Under the contract, the AECC specialists will perform decontamination of building structures, decontamination and dismantling of utility networks, certification of waste and its disposal for disposal to the the National Radioactive Waste Management Operator. Work must be completed during 2020-2021.

AECC received a licence for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities in July 2019. This expanded the capabilities of the enterprise, which has become the centre of competence of the Fuel Division in this area. Previously AECC specialists could carry out decommissioning works at the AECC plant itself. Now they can be involved in projects at other nuclear sites as contractors.

“The decommissioning competency that we have mastered is in demand not only in Russia, but also in the world. The specialists of our company have already accumulated rich experience in implementing similar projects in Angarsk, as well as at the Siberian Chemical Plant in Seversk. The contract for decommissioning the VNIINM facility is another important step in the development of our new business,” said AECC director general Alexander Dudin.

AECC won the contract following a competition in the form of an electronic auction held on 13 May by FTP-YaRB. The deadline for the completion of work is 15 March 2021.  

In 2010, a comprehensive engineering and radiation survey was carried out at U-5; in 2011–2012, the concept and project for decommissioning the U-5 installation were developed and approved; and in 2011–2015, process media and sources of ionising radiation were removed.

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