Belarus plant work suspended after installation mishap

02 August 2016

Russia's Rosatom has offered to replace the reactor shell its workers dropped during installation work last month at Belorussia's first nuclear power plant, in Ostrovets, in the Grodno region. Meanwhile Mikhail Mikhadyuk, deputy energy minister of Belarus, has said a decision would be taken on the use of the equipment only after a thorough investigation of the "abnormal situation".

Assembled RPV for Ostrovets 2 - 460 (Rosatom)
Assembly of the reactor vessel for Ostrovets units 2 at the manufacturing plant in Russia (Image: Rosatom)

Rosatom's deputy director general, Alexander Lokshin, said yesterday that construction workers preparing to install the reactor vessel failed to secure it properly. According to Associated Press, Lokshin said the vessel "slipped down slowly and touched the ground softly" in the 10 July incident. The reactor was not damaged, he said, but Rosatom "stands ready" to replace it with another if that would help restore public confidence in the project.

Mikhadyuk said yesterday that the general contractor of the project would bear costs of the incident. According to the BelTA news agency, he said the multiple construction and assembly works for the project are proceeding to schedule, but "mounting of the shell of the reactor" has been suspended.

The minister added: "Only two scenarios are possible: either we use the same shell once its safety is confirmed. Or we replace it. There is no other option. But now it is up to the experts. Our priority is the unconditional safety of the nuclear power plant."

Rosatom subsidiaries OKB Gidropress and Atomstroyexport are inspecting the reactor vessel. The results of the inspection will be sent to the project's customer - the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant Company - and to Gosatomnadzor, specifically, the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry.

AEM-Technology, another Rosatom subsidiary, said in May that it had completed assembly of the reactor vessel for the VVER-1200 unit 2 of the Belarus nuclear power plant.

In March, AEM-Technology announced it had completed assembly of the internals for unit 1 of the plant. The reactor vessel itself was shipped there in October last year.

Operation of the first unit of the Ostrovets plant is scheduled for November 2018 and the second unit in July 2020, to give 2340 MWe net capacity on line.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News