Patrick Fragman, President & CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company, accompanied by Petro Kotin, head of Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom, paid a working visit to Khmelnitsky NPP. They conducted an inspection of stored fresh Westinghouse fuel, which was delivered to Khmelnitsky for the first time. Khmelnitsky was the last of Ukraine’s NPPs to switch to Westinghouse fuel.

Half of Ukraine’s energy is generated by its NPPs. Ukraine operates seven VVER-1000 reactors, including three at South Ukraine NPP, as well as two at Rivne NPP and the two at Khmelnitsky. Rivne NPP also operates two VVER-440 reactors. Six VVER-1000 units at the Zaporizhia NPP have been under Russian control since early March 2022. While all Ukraine’s operating reactors are of Soviet design, they now use nuclear fuel from the US.

Kotin said Khmelnitsky “is our last station to receive Westinghouse fuel”. He added: “Our company is very satisfied with the operational experience, its reliability, and we continue our fruitful cooperation with Westinghouse. All logistics of deliveries are reliably provided and are carried out on schedule." Fragman commented that both companies have been working for several years to localise fuel production in Ukraine.

Kotin noted that Westinghouse, together with Ukrainian specialists, had also produced fuel for VVER-440 reactors in record time, adding that joint work continues on the development of the fuel production line. "We will have two sources of fuel supply for our reactors – either American or Ukrainian, manufactured using Westinghouse technology."

During the visit, Kotin and Fragman also reviewed the progress of work at the partially completed units 3&4 at the site. Khmelnitsky's first reactor was connected to the grid in 1987, but work on three others stopped in 1990 when unit 3 was 75% complete. Work on the second reactor restarted and it was connected to the grid in 2004 but units 3&4 remain unfinished. Reactors currently stored at Bulgaria’s cancelled Belene NPP are expected to be used to complete these units.

Kotin said the builders are working according to schedule and in June will be ready for installation of equipment. "The draft law on completion of the units has already been submitted to the Parliament. As soon as it is accepted, the following day we will start installing the equipment," he added. However, talks with Bulgaria on the VVER-1000 Belene reactors are still ongoing, with no date for delivery agreed.

He thanked Westinghouse for its support and assistance in completing the two units. Fragman responded noting that Westinghouse is carrying out a number of works that will increase the safe operation of the units. “We are already conducting a certain amount of research for both existing power units and those that are being completed, which complement the know-how of Energoatom.”

Westinghouse is supplying its AP1000 technology for two more units at Khmelnitsky – units 5&6 – but has no experience on the construction of VVER reactors, Fragman said Westinghouse supports Energoatom’s efforts “in areas where our experience and expertise can be particularly useful for Ukraine”. He added: “Of course, this is not the same role as with units 5&6 where we are technology developers, but I can say for sure: in some aspects, we provide assistance to Energoatom."

Fragman and Kotin also visited the site where four modular houses will soon be placed for workers from the Zaporizhia NPP who will participate in the construction of new AP1000 power units using Westinghouse technology and the completion of Units 3 and 4. The modular town will cover 3.1 hectares and become a temporary home for 242 families.

"Most of these people are the personnel of Zaporizhia NPP (ZNPP), who were forced to leave the station due to the occupation. We will move quickly, and in about a month the first builders of power units will come here," Kotin said. Most of the workers at ZNPP remained at the plant and signed new contracts with Russian nuclear utility Rosenergoatom, which now operates the facility.

Kotin said this project will be implemented with the support of the Government of Sweden. Fragman noted that the construction of new power units involves not only attracting personnel, but also creating comfortable living conditions. "The whole project for the construction of new power units is a small piece of the mosaic for the implementation of various measures. This includes the preparation of the site, the purchase of equipment, and technological work, as well as the placement and training of personnel.” He added: “Energoatom is making a lot of efforts to implement this project, and we are very happy that we can help the company in this."

Image: Patrick Fragman, President & CEO of Westinghouse Electric Company, and Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom have visited the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant in Ukraine to review the progress of work at the partially completed units 3&4 (courtesy of Energoatom)