Zaporozhe 5 loaded exclusively with Westinghouse fuel

12 December 2019

The core of unit 5 at the Zaporozhe nuclear power plant in Ukraine has been fully loaded with VVER-1000 fuel produced by Westinghouse, operator Energoatom announced yesterday. In July 2018, unit 3 of the South Ukraine plant became the first VVER-1000 reactor anywhere to operate with a full core of fuel not supplied by Russia.

Zaporozhe units 4 and 5 (Image: Energoatom)

Energoatom said a total of 163 Westinghouse-produced fuel assemblies have been loaded into the core of Zaporozhe unit 5. Three other units at the site are also operating with Westinghouse fuel. Units 3 and 4 are both operating with 84 Westinghouse assemblies within their cores, while unit 1 (currently in a scheduled maintenance outage) has 126 assemblies loaded.

"Using various sources of fuel supply, we first of all ensure the energy security of Ukraine," said Alexander Ignatchenko, deputy chief engineer for nuclear and radiation safety at the Zaporozhe plant. "With regard to the reliability of alternative fuels, the [Westinghouse] TVZ-WR shows good mechanical stability results."

Energoatom said that Unit 5 will begin operating exclusively with Westinghouse-supplied fuel next year, while unit 1 will also be loaded entirely with Westinghouse fuel. Units 3 and 4 will be fully loaded with Westinghouse fuel in 2021. "A year after, subject to successful pilot operation, the use of alternative fuel will become industrial," it said.

Ukraine has 15 nuclear units in commercial operation at four sites - Khmelnitsky, Rovno, South Ukraine and Zaporozhe - which are all operated by state-owned Energoatom. The units comprise 13 VVER-1000s and two VVER-440s with a total capacity of 13,835 MWe. Ukraine receives most of its nuclear services and nuclear fuel from Russia, but it is reducing this dependence by buying fuel from US-headquartered Westinghouse.

Westinghouse has been a nuclear fuel supplier to Ukraine since 2005, when the first lead test assemblies were delivered to unit 3 of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant. Energoatom announced in January 2018 it had extended its contract with Westinghouse - whose fuel is used at six of the 13 units with VVER-1000 reactors - at the South Ukraine and Zaporozhe plants. From 2021, it will supply fuel for a seventh unit, at the Rovno plant. Last December, Westinghouse announced it had produced its thousandth fuel assembly for VVER-1000 type reactors, for South Ukraine. In September, Energoatom and Westinghouse signed a preliminary agreement for Westinghouse to manufacture fuel for Ukraine's two VVER-440s, Rovno units 1 and 2.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News