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Russians set to start building six new generation reactors

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(March 14, 1997) Work is to start in Russia in the next two months on building the first in a series of new power-generation reactors, under a program involving a total of six new units at three different sites.

(468.4656) Ecodefense -Details of the projects have been outlined by a senior official in the Ministry of Atomic Power (Minatom), responsible for design, investment and construction. The program comprises building projects at three sites - Sosnovy Bor, near St. Petersburg, Kola and Novovoronezh. Minatom says that for financial reasons, it is reducing the scope of its construction plans, and is concentrating on two principal designs. These are a 640-megawatt (MW) unit, called the V-407, and a similar but larger 1000-MW unit, known as the V-392. Both are advanced pressurized water reactors.

The ministry's strategy is to launch new nuclear plant construction projects to make up for the loss of nuclear units which are coming to the end of their operating lives on the Kola Peninsula and in the northwestern and central regions. Another aim is to create new energy sources for the Far East. This will involve building the smaller 640-MW plant in areas with isolated power systems or regions with poor links with the main Russian grid. The larger new units are to be used in the general grid system. The ministry says both designs meet modern safety requirements and are competitive in comparison with plants which burn fossil fuels.

Last July, Russia's nuclear regulators gave permission for the construction of a 640-MW unit at Sosnovy Bor, close to the existing Leningrad nuclear station, which consists of four 1000-MW Chernobyl-type RBMKs. Permission for construction was also given for three 640-MW blocks at what is known as the Kola-2 station. There are already four units of the VVER-440 type at Kola. The larger capacity (1000-MW) new design is to be used for the construction of two new units at the Novovoronezh station, where three blocks are already in operation. Minatom has applied for permission to start construction of the two new units at Novovoronezh. The ministry says the perimeter fence for the first V-407 is being erected at Sosnovy Bor, and that preparatory work is underway on the site drainage system, with a view to starting actual construction work in the first quarter of this year. According to the ministry, preparatory work is also going on at the Kola and Novovoronezh sites. This includes roadworks and the installation of electricity lines.

Russia has three nuclear units due for completion within the next three years. Two of them, Kalinin-3 and Kursk-5, are due to be commissioned towards the end of this year or in early 1998. Unit 1 of the Rostov station is due to be completed in 1998 or the following year. The federation's nuclear development program also includes fast reactors at the Beloyarsk and South Urals nuclear sites. In addition, the Russians are developing a floating nuclear power plant, called the KLT-40, for use in isolated coastal territories.

Source: Andrei Gagarinski, Kurchatov Institute, Russia, 22 February 1997
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