The milestone represents the culmination of more than 20 years of work at the site, where spent nuclear fuel from reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the destroyed nuclear station will be processed and stored at ISF-2, the world’s largest nuclear dry storage facility.
ISF-2 has been constructed by an international consortium led by the US company Holtec and financed by the international community through the Nuclear Safety Account, managed by the EBRD.
The first loaded double-walled canister contains 93 spent fuel assemblies that have been removed from the site’s ageing storage facility, and processed and packaged in the new ISF-2 facility. In total, more than 21,000 spent fuel assemblies from Chernobyl reactors 1, 2 and 3 will make this journey over the next eight or more years. The ISF-2 is the largest dry spent fuel storage facility in the world and has a lifespan of a minimum of 100 years.
Hot testing at ISF-2 began earlier this year and the full licence to operate is expected in early 2021. “Important work remains to be completed to secure the full operating licence, but the successful testing and loading of the first full fuel load provides all those involved with cause for some celebration,” said Steven White, EBRD associate director, nuclear safety.
The processing and storage of the spent nuclear fuel at Chernobyl is one of the key remaining tasks at the site. While the 1986 accident destroyed reactor 4, the more than 21,000 fuel assemblies used in the RMBK-type reactors 1, 2 and 3 were removed in the following years and provisionally stored in a wet pond facility.
A purpose-built special train will transport the spent nuclear fuel assemblies to ISF-2.
ISF-2 was financed with contributions from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, the UK and the US.