Minatom’s results in 2001

Publish date: April 11, 2002

Written by: Igor Kudrik

The Russian ministry for nuclear energy reports about profit and production increase, plans to intensify its activities, but pays little attention to the environment.

The Russian nuclear power plants generated 136.4 TWh of electricity last year, up 4.7% on 2000. It is planned to generate 144 TWh of electricity in 2002, up 5.6% on 2001. Rosenergoatom and the Leningrad nuclear power plant closed 2001 with a net profit of $160 million. Export in 2001 totalled $2.51 billion, up 9.9% on 2000. Total capital of Minatom industry is up 19.7% on 2000. The Minatom personnel accounts for

350,000 people.

Nuclear power plants

In 2001, Russian nuclear power plants generated 136.4 TWh of electricity. The average load factor was 70.3% in 2001, up 1.2% on 2000, compared with 80% in the West. The Russian power plants managed to operate without incidents rated more than level 0 on INES scale. The incidents quantity reduced from 69 down to 66 rated level 0. According to the northern-European department of the Russian Nuclear Regulatory, the nuclear power plants in 2001 suffered 31 violations in operation: 5 at the Kursk NPP, 7 at the Leningrad NPP, 14 at the Smolensk NPP. 14 incidents involved generators failure. Smolensk NPP equipped with RBMK Chernobyl type reactors experienced three incidents on the same generator. The measures taken were not enough as the main cause was not determined. The quantity of the incidents due to the bad quality pipes discovered during maintenance is still high, 8 incidents.

In 2001, Unit 1 at Volgodonsk (Rostov) went into operation. This event was accompanied by the information that Minatom did not pay to the contractors, and that the unit launch led to the excessive energy supply in the region. Unit 3 at the Novovoronezh NPP was licensed to operate by December, 2006. The unit was put into operation back in 1971. The requirements for operation of RBMK-1000 unit 1 at Kursk were fulfilled, the unit was launched in 1976. Unit 3 at Kalinin is expected to go into operation by 2003, Volgodonsk 2 by 2005 and Balakovo 5 by 2005. Kalinin 4, Balakovo 6, and Novovoronezh 6 are due to go into operation between 2006 and 2010. Construction of the most of the above-mentioned units was stopped in the beginning of 90s.


Minatom’s export of the production and services totalled $2,506.4 million, up 10% on 2000. Technical participation in construction works abroad increased in 2.5 times than in 2000. Minatom will continue building nuclear stations in China, Iran and India.

Construction of unit 1 and 2 at the Tnvan NPP in China continues according to the schedule. 8.5 thousand tons of equipment was delivered to the site.

Memorandum on basic principles of cooperation on Kudankulam NPP construction in India. The Russian company Atomstroyexport and the Indian Corporation on Atomic Energy signed the agreement about NPP construction listing services and deliveries from Russia.

Busher NPP construction site in Iran received 5,000 tons of equipment from Russia. The Russian government approved the initiative of Minatom and the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding development of the cooperation in the area of peaceful application of atomic energy. This project has raised great concerns in the US, which suspect Iran in financing terrorist organisation.

A contract on unit 5 and 6 up-grade at Kozloduy in Bulgaria has been signed and comes in force on July 1, 2002.

In Finland, Minatom plans to take part in tender on NPP construction with 1000-1500 MW capacity. The final decision on NPP construction, however, has not been made on political level.

In Hungary, Atomstroyexport agreed to take part in Paks NPP modernisation.


Investments in capital construction continued to increase and accounted 114.6% up on 2000. This year it is expected 121.6% up on 2001.

Financing of conversion projects of the program on restructuring and conversion of the facilities and organisations located in “closed” towns continues. After completion of 166 conversion projects in 1998-2001 civil production facilities were established. They managed to produce goods for about $200 million.

Environment protection

Despite all the mentioned achievements, Minatom has nothing special to be proud of regarding environmental safety.

Concerning nuclear submarines decommissioning the following was done:

  • spent nuclear fuel was unloaded from 18 submarines;
  • 15 shipments of special nuclear train;
  • 9 tons of spent nuclear fuel reprocessed;
  • 1966 m3 of liquid nuclear waste reprocessed;
  • construction of onshore loading facilities at Zvezdochka and Zvezda plants;
  • maintenance and service of 54 laid-off nuclear submarines to keep them afloat.

    The spent nuclear fuel unloaded from 18 submarines was shipped to Mayak

    plant in the sourthern Ural for reprocessing, while Mayak still has unsolved problems with contaminated Karachay lake and Techa reservoirs. One tonne of nuclear fuel reprocessing generates 45 m3 high-level, 150 m3 medium-level, 2,000 m3 low-level liquid radioactive waste, and 7,500 kg of solid radioactive waste. High-level waste should be vitrificated in theory, while medium- and low- waste is still dumped into Karachay lake.

    Minatom claims that works on filling in the Karachay lake are completed for 80%. It is worth mentioning that figure 80% is stated in Minatom reports every year during the last years. It seems that if the lake is completely eliminated than Mayak reprocessing plant will have to place to dump its waste from reprocessing. Minatom suggests to resume South-Ural NPP construction in order to solve Karachay and Techa reservoirs problems.

    The new vitrification facility for high-level liquid radioactive waste, launched in October 2001, is currently out of operation due to some manufacture defects.

    So, shipment of spent nuclear fuel to Mayak does not solve environmental problems, but just transfers them from the Kola Peninsula and the Far East to Chelyabinsk region.

    According to the minister of atomic energy Alexander Rumyantsev, Minatom will not manage to unload 25 submarines this year. Serious financing of the sites for spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste collected during nuclear submarines operation and decommissioning is neither planned.

    International cooperation Implementation of the Russian-American agreement regarding plutonium reactors in Siberia continues. The joint committee approved the idea to create alternative source of energy on organic fuel in Seversk and Zheleznogorsk in 2005-2006. Minatom, however, keeps forgetting that the plutonium reactors had to be shut down in 2000. New extension until 2005-2006 stipulates maximum reactors lifetime. The Russian State Nuclear Regulatory gives warnings regarding their operation already now.

    Minatom does not pay much attention to nuclear fuel deliveries to the United States. Russia mixes weapon-grade plutonium with uranium, so it can be used in nuclear power plants. Uranium export to the US, however, is the significant of Minatom’s export. The deliveries are made in accordance to the agreement between Russia and US, so it cannot be considered a technological or commercial achievement of Minatom. Therefore, it is traditionally paid little attention to this activity in Minatom’s report.