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Westinghouse fuel assemblies delivered to Rivne NPP

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Effective cooperation between NNEGC «Energoatom» and the American Westinghouse in the supply of fresh nuclear fuel for the reactors of Ukrainian NPPs has been going on for three decades. Currently, within the framework of the Nuclear Fuel Diversification Program for VVER-1000 reactors, 6 out of 15 domestic nuclear reactors operate on Westinghouse fuel: South-Ukraine NPP units 2 and 3 and four power units of Zaporizhzhya NPP. Industry experts and representatives of the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine have repeatedly confirmed that American fuel has exemplary operational characteristics and good economic performance.

The incoming inspection of nuclear fuel manufactured by the Swedish division of the American Westinghouse is underway at the third power unit of Rivne NPP. The nuclear fuel is planned to be loaded into the core in 2022  –  during the next scheduled outage.

In June of this year, Rivne NPP specialists visited the Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB plant in Vasteras, Sweden, where they got acquainted with the process of manufacturing RWFA fuel assemblies, a set of technical documentation, including lists of manufacturing deviations, as well as repaired assemblies and acceptance reports after the outage.

So far, 42 Westinghouse fuel assemblies in 7 standardized ISO containers have been delivered to the RNPP industrial site, where specialists are inspecting them. Vitaliy Shumyk, the head of the RNPP Nuclear Fuel Laboratory, explains that this process involves unpacking ISO containers, checking the geometric dimensions and multiple-elevation placement of fuel assemblies, inspecting of bottom and top nozzles and inspecting for mechanical damage and foreign objects, as well as displacement of new fuel assemblies to storage canisters.  The process is supervised by specialists – representatives of Westinghouse and the National Science Center «Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology».

The first fuel assemblies from this batch will be loaded into the reactor of RNPP unit 3 next year, says Dmytro Halkin, Deputy Chief Engineer of RNPP for Nuclear and Radiation Safety. «They will be operated throughout the fuel campaign. That is, every year fresh RWFA fuel will replenish the power unit 3 reactor core. Thus, in four years, the entire reactor core will be filled with Westinghouse fuel»,  explains Mr. Halkin. «Therefore, from 2025, the RNPP unit 3 will operate completely on the US nuclear fuel.»

As a reminder, in September last year NNEGC «Energoatom», in the presence of the President of Ukraine, signed a contract with Westinghouse for the supply and licensing of nuclear fuel for two Ukrainian VVER-440 reactors – Rivne NPP units 1 and 2. Thus, according to Energoatom’s head Petro Kotin, the Company has taken another step in the implementation of the Nuclear Fuel Diversification Program and is the first in Europe to start using Westinghouse fuel for VVER-440 nuclear units.

Next is a visit of Westinghouse technicians to the RNPP site to discuss the technical conditions of fuel supply, as well as manufacturing of equipment for its inspection. In 2024 the first batch of 12 Westinghouse fuel assemblies is planned to be loaded into the RNPP power unit 2 reactor core, which will be in trial operation for 4-6 years.