All the nuclear fuel has been loaded into the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. Physical launch operations continue, BelTA learned from Vigen Marukhyan, Head of the Nuclear Safety Regulation Office of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry (Gosatomnadzor), on 20 August.
According to the source, as of 20 August 163 fuel assembly rods were loaded into the reactor. There are certain steps to be taken to seal the reactor. They take longer than one hour or one day. The second phase of the physical launch is supposed to take place once the state enterprise Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant notifies Gosatomnadzor that the enterprise is ready to begin this phase – hydraulic tests.
The official explained that the first phase of the physical launch involves the loading of nuclear fuel. The second phase involves “cold” tests – hydraulic tests on a reactor unit with the temperature under 130C. The third phase involves “hot” tests with the temperature raised above 130C.
BelTA reported earlier that the loading of nuclear fuel into the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant began on 7 August. A total of 163 fuel rod arrays had to be inserted into the reactor followed by a series of necessary tests. The fuel was made by Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant. The enrichment level varies from 1.3% to 4.4%.
The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built near Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast using the Russian design AES-2006 featuring two VVER-1200 reactors with the total output capacity of 2,400MW. The Russian state nuclear industry corporation Rosatom is the general contractor. Generation III+ reactor units boast improved technical and economic parameters. The power startup of the first unit and its connection to the country’s power grid are scheduled for Q4 2020. The launch of the second unit is supposed to take place in 2022.
According to the Energy Ministry, the launch of the Belarusian nuclear power plant will satisfy about one third of the country’s demand for electricity. It will also allow substituting 4.5 billion m3 of natural gas per annum and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 7 million tonnes per year.