Prolonged Kola NPP life-time

It will not be possible to complete the construction of the KNPP-2 in the 5-6 years to come, concluded the management of Kola Nuclear Power Plant. So, today’s task for the engineers at Kola NPP is to prove that the ageing plant can safely operate for some more years.

Kola Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP-1) operates on four VVER-440 reactors, commissioned in 1973, 1974, 1981 and 1984 respectively. The two oldest reactors, now 24 and 23 years old, originally were to be shut down in 2003 and 2004.

–Due to the limited funds available, Rosenergoatom headquarters give priority to the partly completed reactor installations at Rostov, Kalinin and Kursk nuclear power plants, said chief engineer at Kola nuclear power plant, Vasiliy Omelchuk. –When it comes to the brand new nuclear power plants, attention is concentrated on the prototype of a new generation reactor installation in Sosnovy Bor in Leningrad county, he continued.

According to Mr. Omelchuk, Rosenergoatom, state owned contractor for nuclear power plants, at present only provides minimal funding to the construction works at the KNPP-2. The funding will remain scarce next year as well, forcing Kola NPP engineers to work out a way to prolong the life-time of the operating reactors.

–This year we’ll complete a number of tasks to ensure the safety of the two oldest reactors. We plan to spend some 14 million USD on this purpose, said Mr. Omelchuk.

A mobile diesel generator delivered by Norway, has been put into operation. In case of an accident, the generator should deliver emergency power to the reactor installation, preventing an escalation of the accident. Currently, a liquid radwaste processing facility is under construction, as well as a mobile facility for emergency water supply to the reactors. Adding to these measures, a diagnostic centre, also provided by Norway, was commissioned at the nuclear power plant. The equipment will detect malfunctions in operating reactor installations. Without it, the reactors had to be shut down in order to perform the same measurements.

When put together, these measurments will ensure nuclear safety at the power-plant, even while prolonging the operational life-time of the two oldest reactor units, according to Omelchuk.

This month, Kola NPP will invite tenders for outfitting of the two oldest reactors with new equipment. The project should cost 84 million USD, and is scheduled to be completed within a few years. 21 million USD has been allocated by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

Igor Kudrik

igor@bellona.no