Russian nuclear corporation issues unlikely decree for reactor construction near Murmansk

Kola NPP interior Inside reactor no 1 at the Kola Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo: Wikipedia)

A Russian government decree published on the first of the month indicates the country plans to construct 11 new nuclear power reactors by 2030 – including two BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors.

The decree, which covers “territorial planning for energy” for the period, also identifies six points for radioactive waste disposal.

The 11 units do not include those already under construction – Kaliningrad, Leningrad, Novovoronezh and Rostov – or the floating reactor Academician Lomonosov. The BN-1200 reactors are to be built at the Beloyarsk and South Urals nuclear power plants, World Nuclear News reported.

But it does include the construction of a, which would be the first in line for the Kola Nuclear Power Plant II, namely an experimental reactor called the VVER-600 unit.

Construction of the Kola NPP II has been a source of controversy. The oldest reactors at the first plant have been granted engineering lifespans until 2033 and 2024 respectively, leaving environmentalists and nuclear observers scratching their heads over the new diktat from Rosatom.

Alexander Nikitin Chairman the Environmental Rights Center Bellona said in an interview that it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the plans Rosatom issues, and that the notion of building a plethora of new reactors in the next 14 years is a wishful thinking at best.

bodytextimage_nikitin4833.JPG Bellona's Alexander Nikitin Credit: Bellona

He also cautioned that the “territorial planning for energy” doesn’t commit Russia to building any of the ambitions plans it holds.

“This is, so to speak, an obligatory document, but is not sufficient for the construction of what it enumerates,” he wrote. ”Therefore, weather the KNPP-2 will be built or when remains unknown.”

He added that he’s been told by numerous Rosatom officials that a number of radioactive waste storage sites had been planed for construction by 2014, and that hasn’t come to be.

“So the planned nuclear power stations could meet with the same situation,” he wrote.

Andrei Zolotkov, a nuclear expert with Bellona in Murmansk suggested that building a new plant under the newly issued “territorial planning for energy” could be logical.

He said in an interview that Rosatom suggests retiring before 2030 a capacity of some 880 megawatts power, but noted Rosatom proposes replacing it with only 600 megawatts of power.

“Here we have to remember that for several years, the locality hasn’t demanded up to 500 megawatts from the Kola Nuclear Power Plant, therefore the exchange [of reactor power] would be logical,” he wrote.

Because of that deficit, it wouldn’t make sense to ask for Rosatom build it’s bigger run reactors that produce 1000 to 1200 megawatts of power, mainly because the energy infrastructure in the area can’t handle conducting that much power.

“For that, one would need to redo the whole infrastructure – power lines, substations, etc.,” he wrote. He pointed out a similar situation in 2013 arose in a previous “territorial planning for energy.” That plan called for the installation of VVER 1200 reactors at the Kola Nuclear Power Plant II.”

kola npp pim A protest by the Priroda i Molodezh (Nature and Youth) environmental organization in the Murmansk region against the Kola NPP reactor extensions. (Photo: Priroda i Molodezh)

That plan likewise was not realized.

“In my opinion this [new] ‘territorial planning for energy’ is less convincing than the former ‘Nuclear Power Plant Construction Roadmap,’ wrote Zolotkov. “The former ‘plans’ [also] include two wind energy parks for Murmansk of 300 and 100 megawatts each of which are to be built by 2020 and 2025.”

The decree also approved the building of The decree also approves building a facility to produce high-density U-Pu nitride fuel and the construction by 2025 of the BREST-OD-300 fast neutron reactor, WNN reported.

BREST-OD-300 is part of Russian state nuclear corporation’s ‘Proryv’, or Breakthrough, project to enable a closed nuclear fuel cycle. The ultimate aim is to eliminate production of radioactive waste from nuclear power generation, the news agency said.

In addition, the decree said a total of seven VVER-TOI units at the sites of Kola II, Smolensk II, Nizhny Novgorod, Kostroma plants and the planned Tatar nuclear power plant, said WWN.

 

Charles Digges

charles@bellona.no