Two Soviet-era reactors at the Bohunice V1 nuclear power plant in the Slovak Republic have been fully dismantled and the components decontaminated for safe storage or recycling, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has said.

The work was funded through the Bohunice International Decommissioning Support Fund (BIDSF) supported by the European Commission together with Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK and managed by the EBRD. The plant’s two oldest VVER-440 reactors operated for almost 30 years before being shut down in 2006 and 2008 as a condition for Slovakia’s accession to the European Union. Decommissioning began in 2011. Two newer VVER-440 units Bohunice V2) continue to operate but Slovakia has now become a net importer of energy instead of an exporter.

This is the first time reactors of this type have been decommissioned and disassembled directly on site. The work was completed on schedule and within budget and will provide valuable experience and expertise for other decommissioning work around the world, EBRD said. Work at the site to take apart and process the remaining equipment and systems was scheduled to be completed by 2025. Civil structures and power plant buildings would then be demolished, and the area made safe for redevelopment by 2027.

The Nuclear and Decommissioning Company (JAVYS) has started dismantling the cooling towers but the end date of 2025 has now been deferred to 2027 and further delays are a possibility, Slovak daily Dennik reported. If Slovakia does not meet the deadline, costs could increase by around €100 million ($101m).

Decommissioning of the two units is not going according to plan, according to Dennik. The biggest delay is caused by the decontamination and demolition project. The public procurement has been going on for a year and a half. There are several reasons for this. First of all, the deadlines for submitting applications changed and then the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) spent a long time considering an appeal by one of the bidders, who had been excluded from the competition. In addition, as one member is missing from the Board of the Authority, the number of members is even, making voting more complicated. As a result, JAVYS still does not know the winner.

Image: Bohunice V1 nuclear power plant (Credit: EBRD)