Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU) has agreed to a 10-year operating extension for unit 1 of the South Ukraine NPP. This followed an inspection of the plant conducted in August. The 950 MWe Soviet-built VVER unit began commercial operation in 1983 with an original design lifetime of 30 years. Ukraine has adopted a programme of 10-year extensions for its reactors. South Ukraine 1’s last 10-year extension was issued in 2013 and was due to expire in December.
Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom currently operates nine reactors at three NPPs – three VVER-1000 units at South Ukraine; two VVER-1000s at Khmelnitsky NPP; and four units at Rivne NPP (two VVER-1000s and two smaller VVER-440s). The six-unit Zaporizhia NPP was taken over by Russia in March 2022 at the start of its special military operation and is now operated by Russia’s Rosatom.
SNRIU said inspection surveys and other checks had led it to conclude that South Ukraine 1 “meets the requirements for nuclear and radiation safety" and recognised “the reasonable possibility of safe operation ... at the capacity levels specified in the project until 2 December 2033".
Energoatom President Petro Kotin said: "We have received confirmation of the possibility of further safe operation of this power unit for another 10 years, during which nuclear and radiation safety, protection of personnel, population and the environment are guaranteed. The uniqueness of this event is that, for the first time in Ukraine, all the necessary procedures and examinations to obtain the appropriate conclusion were carried out in accordance with Western standards and without a long shutdown of the power unit."
He added that, unlike the previous practice of shutting down a power unit for 200-250 days: "This time, we went through all the necessary procedures to extend the life... while maintaining generation and providing electricity to our citizens. The implementation of such global practice by Energoatom specialists and SNRIU experts significantly increased the efficiency and quality of our work."
Image: The South Ukraine nuclear power plant (courtesy of South Ukraine NPP)