Waste Management

Chernobyl / Hot Testing To Start At Interim Spent Fuel Facility In February

By David Dalton
29 January 2020

Commissioning is scheduled for summer, Holtec says
Hot Testing To Start At Interim Spent Fuel Facility In February
The ISF-2 interim storage facility at the Chernobyl nuclear site. Photo courtesy Chernobyl NPP.
The €380m ISF-2 interim spent nuclear fuel processing and storage facility at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine has been handed over by contractor Holtec International to the operator, Chernobyl NPP, with hot testing expected to start next month.

Chernobyl NPP said the start of hot testing is scheduled for the end of February. Cold testing lasted almost four months, from 6 May 2019 until 29 August 2019.

The cold tests comprised a range of situations which could be faced by the operator, including normal operation and response to incidents and emergencies. Hot testing will use real fuel and will take three months. During hot testing 186 spent fuel assemblies will be transferred from the current interim spent nuclear fuel storage facility to ISF-2.

Holtec said ISF-2 can formally begin commercial operation once Chernobyl NPP receives an operating permit from the Ukrainian nuclear regulator.

According to earlier statements by Holtec, project completion and commissioning is scheduled for July 2020.

Holtec took over the ISF-2 project in 2011 after a multi-year demonstration to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Ukrainian regulator that it had the necessary technologies to deal with Chernobyl’s waterlogged RBMK fuel and onerous fuel confinement requirements.

The project had begun in the late 1990s but stalled when the initial contractor’s technology was shown to be inadequate. The partially constructed facility and major civil equipment structures remained idle for nearly a decade.

A programme for the design and construction of the facility began in 1997 with international funding managed by the EBRD.

According to the EBRD, the facility will process, dry and cut more than 21,000 fuel assemblies from Chernobyl-1, -2 and -3. The assemblies will then be placed in double-walled canisters and stored in concrete modules onsite for a minimum of 100 years.

Units 1, 2 and 3 at Chernobyl, all of the Soviet RBMK reactor design, were shut down permanently in 1996, 1991, and 2000. Unit 4, also an RBMK, was destroyed by an explosion in the April 1986 accident.

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