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‘VVER-1200 which is going to be used in Rooppur is the most modern and safe technology’

For the first time in Bangladesh`s history, a nuclear power plant is going to be built at Rooppur of Pabna district.

Russian State Owned Atomic Energy Corporation ‘Rosatom’ which is currently responsible for 37% of nuclear reactors under construction worldwide, will build, operate and provide fuel for the plant.

On invitation from Rosatom, Faisal Mahmud recently visited Russian state of the art Rostov Nuclear Power Plant in Volgodonsk to get an insight of nuclear power plant operation and its safety procedure.

Upon that visit, he came up with some questions which were clarified by Maksim V Elchischev, the vice-president of JSC NIAEP who is also in-charge of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP) project from Russian side. JSC NIAEP is an affiliate of Rosatom.

Here are the details of that interview for the reader’s of energynewsbd.com.

energynewsbd.com: How safe is the Russian nuclear reactor technology? Does Russia use state of art technology in building nuclear power plant?

Maksim V Elchischev: Design decisions of nuclear power plant (NPP) built according to Russian technologies meet all modern requirements of the world nuclear community fixed in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Standards.

An important guarantee of nuclear safety at plants built according to Russian technologies is also a long-term trouble-free operation experience.

Considering the safety of nuclear power plants Russia takes the leading place in the world, because in its projects the safety technology gets the highest priority.

The main objective of safety at nuclear power plants built according to Russian technologies is the protection of operating personnel, the public and the environment from radiation exposure at all stages of operation of a nuclear power plant, including accidents at design and post design stages.

Russian reactors are in the leading group considering reliability (according to the World Association of Nuclear Operators - WANO).

Russian projects security has been tested not only with time, but also by natural disasters. Buildings and infrastructure of the Kudankulam NPP (India) withstood the Sumatra tsunami in 2004.

In 1988 the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant experienced a 7-magnitude earthquake that destroyed the town of Spitak.

A series of earthquakes with an epicentre in Romania was withstood the Bulgarian NPP Kozloduy nearby built by Soviet specialists.

NPPs in Russia are operated safely and reliably, as evidenced by the results of regular inspections as an independent authority (RTN) and international organizations (WANO, etc.).

"Russian projects security has been tested not only with time, but also by natural disasters. Buildings and infrastructure of the Kudankulam NPP (India) withstood the Sumatra tsunami in 2004."
   

Over the last 5 years at the Russian nuclear power plants there have been recorded no serious security breaches, classified above the first level on the international scale INES (International Nuclear Event Scale).

As for the reliability criterion at a nuclear power plant Russia ranks second in the world among countries with developed nuclear power, ahead of such countries as the US, UK and Germany.

The high degree of nuclear safety at Russian nuclear power plants has been secured by a number of factors.

The main of them - is the principle of self-protection of the reactor plant, the presence of multiple safety barriers and multiple duplication of safety channels; the use of active and passive safety systems.

In addition, safety culture at all plants operates at all stages of the life cycle, from site selection to decommissioning.

energynewsbd.com: Rosatom offers Bangladesh to use their VVER 1200 reactor technology for the Rooppur nuclear power plant. What is its advantage? Where else Rosatom uses this technology?

Maksim: The project will use technology VVER-1200 - a project of generation III +, which fully meets the modern requirements of the Russian Federation and the IAEA. VVER technology has been developing for 50 years and is widely distributed in the world.

The experience of successful operation of VVER already exceeds 1,400 reactor years accident-free.

Nuclear power plants with VVER reactors built with the participation of Russian experts in Finland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and other countries.

The basis for the VVER 1200 technology was the technology of the VVER-1000.

It was used to build a number of nuclear power plants in Russia (11 units) and abroad: in Bulgaria (2), Ukraine (13), Czech Republic (2), India (2), Iran (1) and China (2).

In 2014, two VVER-1000 units were commissioned: Russia`s third unit of the Rostov nuclear power plant, and in India the 1st unit of NPP Kudankulam, which was included in India’s national energy grid in 2013, reached full capacity in July 2014.

Then in December 2014 it was handed over to India to the annual period of guarantee maintenance. On February 22, 2016, the first unit of the Kudankulam NPP has been reconnected to the grid after the scheduled preventive maintenance which started in June 2015.

It’s currently India’s most powerful reactor. The generation tariff for Kudankulam NPP is maintained at the level set by the Indian Government in 2010-2011 without any escalation.

This rate is considered to be one of the most competitive in India. The second unit assembly is finished. The hot run stage is completed. The physical launch is scheduled by the Indian party for mid-2016.

The oldest US power energy magazine Power Engineering (published since 1896), is one of the most respected in the world of professional media, called the nuclear power plants in Iran and India, built by Russian Technologies, the winners of the "projects of the year - 2014" in the category "Nuclear Energy ".

Modern designs of NPPs with VVER reactors belong to the generation 3+ and have a combination of active and passive safety systems, including - four independent channels of security, provide resistance to the design and beyond design basis accidents, calculated on the full simulator - a mathematical model of a virtual unit.

"In 2014, two VVER-1000 units were commissioned: Russia`s third unit of the Rostov nuclear power plant, and in India the 1st unit of NPP Kudankulam, which was included in India’s national energy grid in 2013, reached full capacity in July 2014."                                                               

                                        

At present several plants are built in Russia and abroad according to the project VVER-1200.

For example, a hot operational testing of the 1st unit of Novovoronezh NPP-2 has been completed in the end of 2015, it’s physical launch is scheduled for 2016’s first quarter.

The construction of NPP in Belarus goes strictly in compliance with schedule. The launch of the first unit of the plant is scheduled for 2018, of the second one — in 2020. Also according to this project plants will be built in Finland, Hungary and Egypt.

energynewsbd.com: What will be the method of transportation of the nuclear reactor and other equipment to Bangladesh? Has Russia done a feasibility study for the organisation of the transport infrastructure in Rooppur?

Maksim: As part of the development of project documentation of NPP Rooppur, the Russian side has done transportation and logistics survey of delivery of heavy and large equipment on the territory of Bulgaria as test case to understand the whole scenario.

The transport infrastructure of Bulgaria has been studied, the options for delivery by road, rail and water transport as well as mixed options were discussed and a transportation methodology was formulated basing on that study.

For delivery of cargo weighing up to 100 tons rail and road transport will be used. To deliver nuclear reactor and other heavy equipment water ways will be used.

Delivery will be done through Mongla port up to the site of NPP Rooppur where the necessary berthing facilities will be built.

energynewsbd.com: How Rosatom manages radioactive waste and spent fuel?

Maksim: "Rosatom" offers its partners not only the construction of nuclear power plants but a complex or as we call it, an integrated solution that includes a full range of products and services in the nuclear industry, ensures sustainable development of the national nuclear power system for the long term; It provides unprecedented opportunities for involvement and the development of local industrial base.

At the moment, Rosatom is the only company in the world that offers a solution that covers the entire nuclear chain, including extraction and enrichment of uranium, design and construction of nuclear power plants, supply of equipment, provision of nuclear fuel, service as well as complex solutions in the field of back -end: the issues of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel treatment and decommissioning of old stations.

Russia attaches great importance to the last stages of the nuclear fuel cycle management of spent nuclear fuel, including reprocessing, radioactive waste management (air conditioning, disposal).

Russia uses the principle of not leaving to future generations the unreasonable burden associated with the need to ensure the safe handling of radioactive waste.

Thus in Russia processing and handling of spent nuclear fuel or radioactive waste is conducted in such a way as to significantly reduce their volume and duration of activity.

Also, Russia is the only country in the world, which is developing the project for the closure of the nuclear fuel cycle on the basis of "fast neutrons".

The "fast" technologies reactors are in possession of very few countries, and Russia is the world leader in this field. Fast neutron power units serve for substantial extension of the fuel base of the nuclear energy and to minimize the amount of waste due to the closed nuclear fuel cycle.

Closed nuclear fuel cycle - the nuclear fuel cycle in which spent nuclear fuel is removed from the reactor, reprocessed to recover uranium and plutonium and then reused to make nuclear fuel.

"The Fast power" is able to dramatically affect the accumulation of radioactive waste, especially high-level, which is formed in the process of "burning" the nuclear fuel in the reactor.

Russia`s experience in the field of radioactive waste management is notable for the fact that Russian technology won the tender for the selection of an experimental setup for decontamination of radioactive water accumulated at the plant "Fukushima" in Japan.

Russia`s experience in the field of radioactive waste management is also notable for the fact that Russian technology to solve the problem of purification of tritium liquid radioactive waste in 2014 was selected along with the bids of the North American companies Kurion Inc and GE-Hitachi Canada Inc among 29 bidders through an international tender for construction of a demonstration plant for decontamination of radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan accumulated after the disaster in 2011.

energynewsbd.com: Is there a standard volume of water or the required parameters for cooling water at the nuclear power plants with capacity of 1000 MW? If so, what are those and how those are calculated?

Maksim: There is no standard volume or any special parameters for the cooling water for nuclear power plants of any capacity.

The volume of water required for a nuclear power plant depends on the nuclear power plant’s capacity, the system of the technical water supply as well as on the climatic conditions of the station’s location.

The volume of water is calculated individually for each station based on the analysis of natural and industrial factors, environmental protection and rational use of natural resources.

For NPP "Rooppur", where 2 units with VVER reactors of 1,200 MW each will be built, a system of cooling with evaporative cooling towers was adopted.

A cooling tower is an important facility of a power plant’s infrastructure. This hydraulic structure is designed for cooling water systems in a nuclear power plant’s water recycling system.

From the river only the water required to make up for losses to evaporation and carryover from the cooling towers and the technological needs of the plant is collected.

In total, these losses amount to 259,200 cubic meters per day, which is equivalent to only 1.6% of the minimum flow of the river Padma in the area of the nuclear power plant "Ruppur" site.

 

 

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