Lousy economics at Leningrad NPP: 25 year old reactor keeps Leningrad running

Publish date: September 17, 1998

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

The economic crisis in Russia leaves Leningrad NPP to operate on its oldest Chernobyl type reactors. Reactor no. 3 is ready to start operating after repairs, but there is no money to purchase nuclear fuel for it.

Reactor no. 3 was shut down for repairs and reconstruction in 1996, and has been ready to reenter operation since August this year. But Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant does not have money to purchase the necessary nuclear fuel for the reactor.

Since the financial crisis in Russia started in August, the debt owed to the plant has increased dramatically. According to the St. Petersburg Times, the plant only received 700,000 rubles from its clients in the first two weeks of September. This is 0.4 percent of the monthly amount necessary to cover the nuclear fuel costs, which are about 350 million rubles ($31 million according to Monday’s rate). The debt owed to the plant by its clients now exceeds 1.1 billion rubles. Reactor no. 4 was shut down in late June for two years of reconstruction work.

Thus only the two oldest reactors at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant are in operation today. They are the oldest civilian RBMK reactors in Russia, initially started in 1973 and 1975. There are many safety faults with these reactors, among them missing fire protection. Design of new fire detection and alarm systems for reactors no. 1 and 2 has been completed, but the equipment is not yet installed. The last incident at reactor no. 2 happened on March 13 this year. The reactor suffered an emergency shut down due to a leak in the cooling system. These are the same type of reactor as those at Chernobyl.