Work has begun at the construction site of the Paks II NPP in Hungary. General contractor ASE (Engineering Division of Rosatom has begun construction of an impervious curtain (PFZ).

Work is carried out in strict accordance with the licences issued by the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority. After completion of the impervious curtain and the strengthening of the soil, the arrangement of the pit and preparation for the construction of the foundation slab will begin.

The impervious curtain is an engineering structure – a waterproof wall – one metre thick and up to 32 metres deep, with a circumference of two and a half kilometres. Its purpose is to keep groundwater from entering the pit. The PFZ is also designed to prevent a decrease in the groundwater level at the construction site, which is the most important condition for the safe operation of the four operating units at the existing Paks NPP. In parallel with the construction of the impervious curtain, preparatory work is underway to erect auxiliary buildings and structures, a concrete plant, warehouses and office buildings.

The Paks II project was launched in 2014 by an inter-governmental agreement between Hungary and Russia for two VVER-1200 reactors (units 5&6) to be supplied by Rosatom. The contract was supported by a Russian state loan to finance the majority of the project. The Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority issued the licence for the units in August 2022. The following December, the Hungarian parliament approved the extension of the life of the four existing VVER-440 power units at the Paks NPP for another 20 years. The current life of the station's nuclear reactors would have ended in 2032-2037, and now it is assumed that they will work until at least 2052-2057. Paks currently provides half of all generated and one third of the consumed electricity in Hungary.

Image: Construction of the groundwater cut-off at the Paks II site gets under way (courtesy of Paks II)