Russia's Bilibino 2, Novovoronezh 4 get licence extensions

30 December 2019

Russian regulator Rostechnadzor has issued operating licence extensions to two more nuclear power units, bringing the total number to 27 since 2001. Unit 2 of Bilibino NPP and unit 4 of Novovoronezh NPP are now licensed to operate until the end of 2025 and 2032, respectively, which is six and 13 years longer than their previous licences.

Bilibino NPP (Image: Rosatom)

State nuclear corporation Rosatom noted that extending the operating periods of existing nuclear power units was global practice that enables the continued reliable supply of electricity whilst allowing time to prepare for the construction of replacement capacities. It added that units receiving licence extensions would have had to undergo large-scale upgrade work to demonstrate that a high level of safety was guaranteed.

Such work included, for example, "the addition of a passive cooling system in the form of special hydraulic reservoirs with boron solution, which, if necessary, enters the reactor core and cools it, giving additional time to start the safety systems," Andrey Dementyev, deputy general director of Rosatom’s operator subsidiary, Rosenergoatom, said.

Cooling towers at Novovoronezh NPP (Image: Rosatom)

Located in Chukotka, Bilibino is the world’s northernmost nuclear power plant. Its four EGP-6 light water graphite reactors started operations between 1974 and 1977. In January this year, Rostechnadzor issued a 15-year licence to operate unit 1 without power generation. Units 2-4 are in operation.

The five VVER pressurised water reactor units at the existing Novovoronezh nuclear power plant, in southwest Russia, were commissioned between 1964 and 1980. The first and second units were permanently decommissioned in 1988 and 1990. Unit 3 was decommissioned in 2016, while unit four was shut down for modernisation works and has since resumed operation. Unit 5 has also undergone an upgrade and is licensed to operate until 2035.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News