26 December 2011, 17:02

Nuclear fuel storage to be commissioned in East Siberia

Nuclear fuel storage to be commissioned in East Siberia

A newly constructed storage near Krasnoyarsk, East Siberia, is ready to take the first consignment of spent nuclear fuel in January. Russia spent 16 billion rubles or 500 million U.S. dollars to construct the facility, which has been commissioned recently. The dry storage complex is at the Chemical Mining Plant in Zheleznogorsk.

A newly constructed storage near Krasnoyarsk, East Siberia, is ready to take the first consignment of spent nuclear fuel in January. Russia spent 16 billion rubles or 500 million U.S. dollars to construct the facility, which has been commissioned recently.

The dry storage complex is at the Chemical Mining Plant in Zheleznogorsk. At present, it is developing a full technological complex for the closure of the entire nuclear fuel cycle on the basis of innovative technology, says a spokesman for the facility, Boris Ryzhenkov.

“This facility should guarantee a safe use of the spent nuclear fuel. In short, it should guarantee a smooth work of the Leningradskaya, Kurskaya and Smolenskaya nuclear power plants. There was a task of unloading the storages near these power plants which have reached the maximum level of filling,” says Boris Ryzhenkov.

The nuclear fuel is stored in water-cooled storages at the nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, in the dry storage, nuclear fuel is in air-tight cases in a gaseous medium which excludes the corrosion of metals. The new facility has the capacity of storing 38,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel. After the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear power plants, special attention has been paid to the safety of nuclear facilities. In this context, the storage near Krasnoyarsk meets all safety demands, says Boris Ryzhenkov.

This is a reinforced concrete building with steel tubes closed with protecting plugs running inside the thick walls. The storage can withstand an 8 point earthquake and an aircraft crash. The spent nuclear fuel storage is an independent facility. It will remain fully functioning even if the power supply is cutoff and all working personnel leaves it,” Boris Ryzhenkov said.

At present, the task before nuclear power generation is to provide a closed nuclear-fuel cycle. With the commissioning of a spent nuclear fuel processing facility at the Chemical Mining Plant, 95 percent of nuclear materials from Russian nuclear power stations will be returned to the fuel cycle, says the editor-in-chief of the Atomic-Energy portal, Pavel Yakovlev.

“Russia is also developing advanced technology to process spent nuclear materials, especially water-graphite nuclear reactors of the canal type. Earlier, such fuel was considered unrecyclable,” Pavel Yakovlev said.

The unmarketable waste at the plant will be vitrified and hidden in underground storages for a long-time isolation. The Chemical Mining Plant has recently started building a facility to produce uranium-plutonium fuel. In short, it can become the first Russian enterprise with a full nuclear cycle, from production to storage and processing of nuclear fuel.

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