An operator training simulator developed by Russia’s National Research Nuclear University (NRU-MEPhI) has been launched at the Rostov NPP and approved by nuclear utility Rosenergoatom. The university, formerly known as the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI), was renamed in 2009 and reformed to incorporate a number of other educational establishments. It is partly funded by state nuclear corporation Rosatom but remains the responsibility of the Federal Education Agency.

The university said on 19 July that the simulator, known as PMT-3 by its official name, was created by its Automatics Department and is aimed at plant operating personnel "to acquire the expertise, knowledge and skills necessary to carry out their daily duties to the highest standards". The simulator includes a "full-scale imitator" of the control units of the third reactor of the Rostov plant and "computer modelling of essential components", including communication, control and video surveillance systems. The simulator also has work stations for instructors, the university said.

The simulator's software "models in real time the physical processes of the technological systems" of an operating nuclear power unit. "In particular, PMT-3 fully simulates the control unit of Rostov NPP as well as real operations fulfilled by it. Moreover, the simulator can model neutron-physical and technological processes in the equipment of the nuclear power unit and perform all normal and abnormal operations, including modes with equipment failures, design accidents and beyond-design basis events," the university said.

Launching the new simulator will enable the plant's operators "to significantly increase the safety and efficiency of the third unit's operations and provide quality training and retraining of operating personnel to work with high-tech equipment," it said.

The Rostov plant is located on the banks of the Tsimlyansk reservoir, nearly 14 km (8 miles) from the city of Volgodonsk. Four 1000 MWe VVER pressurized water reactors have been planned at the Rostov site (formerly known as Volgodonsk) since the early 1980s. Construction of units 1 and 2 began promptly, but progress faltered. Units 1 and 2 eventually entered commercial operation in March 2001 and October 2010, respectively. Unit 3 was connected to the grid in December 2014

The reactor pressure vessel was installed at unit 4 last December and the refuelling machine is nearing completion, the plant said on 29 July. In August the installation of last two accumulators of the emergency core cooling system (ECCS) and stressing the ropes in the containment pre-stressing system should be completed. In October, the installed equipment will be tested individually and unsealed reactor tests are planned for the end of this year. Rostov-4 is to be started up in 2017.