Westinghouse fuel assemblies arrive at Zaporozhe plant

24 February 2016

Westinghouse Electric has delivered the first batch of "upgraded" nuclear fuel assemblies to the Zaporozhe nuclear power plant in Ukraine, with fuel loading at unit 5 planned for May, pending regulatory approval.

According to a statement published on the plant's website on 22 February, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine is currently assessing the "technical solution" to load the fuel assemblies, which were produced by Westinghouse Electric Sweden.

The introduction of new fuel involves "certain changes to the unit's systems", it added. Among these are modification of the core monitoring system in order to enable "in-service inspection" of the fuel assemblies.

After their successful "pilot operation" at Zaporozhe 5, Westinghouse's TVS-WR fuel assemblies will be loaded into units 1, 3 and 4.

USA-headquartered Westinghouse, which is majority-owned by Japan's Toshiba, has been working in the Ukrainian market since 2003 and its fuel is already operating at the South Ukraine plant.

Ukraine traditionally relied solely on Russia's TVEL for supplies of nuclear fuel, but in December 2014 Energoatom and Westinghouse agreed "to significantly increase" nuclear fuel deliveries to Ukrainian nuclear power plants until 2020. Westinghouse originally signed a fuel supply contract with Energoatom in 2008. Through that contract, Westinghouse supplied a total of 630 nuclear fuel assemblies to the three VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors at the South Ukraine plant. The South Ukraine plant is the only one to date to use both TVEL and Westinghouse fuel assemblies.

The Zaporozhe statement noted that the move to Westinghouse fuel assemblies is part of Ukrainian nuclear power producer Energoatom's strategy to diversify its fuel supply.

"Calling the fuel American is arbitrary, since it is produced in Sweden," it said, adding that inspection of the fuel upon its arrival at the site had been "passed without comment".

Energoatom and Westinghouse signed a contract for the extension of Ukraine's use of TVS-WR fuel assemblies to the Zaporozhe nuclear power plant in November last year. The agreement concerns testing of Westinghouse software at the plant. The software - BEACON (Best Estimate Analysis of Core Operations - Nuclear) - is a core monitoring and operational support package developed by Westinghouse for use at pressurised water reactors.

In September last year, Energoatom said it had awarded a €339,990 ($369,000) contract to Westinghouse Electric Sweden, to supply four fuel assembly simulators for the Zaporozhe plant.

If and when the licence to load the fuel assemblies at Zaporozhe 5 is granted, Energoatom said it planned to order five supplies of fresh nuclear fuel from Westinghouse - two for South Ukraine and three for Zaporozhe.

Västerås in Sweden is one of Westinghouse's ten nuclear fuel manufacturing locations.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News