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Energoatom borrows USD51 million to buy extra Westinghouse fuel

Ukraine’s Energoatom has taken a UAH1.5 billion (USD51 million) loan from Ukrgasbank to buy more nuclear fuel from Westinghouse. It follows the energy giant’s decision to stop using Russian fuel earlier this year.

In a statement Energoatom said “the borrowed funds will increase the purchase of American fuel and ensure the efficient operation of Ukrainian nuclear power units after the abandonment of Russian fuel”.

Energoatom’s President Petro Kotin said: “We appreciate our strategic partnership with Ukrgasbank which has lent its hand to Ukraine’s nuclear energy during the difficult wartime.”

Last year Energoatom signed deals with Westinghouse for nuclear fuel for VVER-440 reactors, part of a two-decades-long process of diversification – by last year Westinghouse fuel was in operation at six of the country’s Russian-designed VVER-1000 reactors, with Westinghouse’s fuel for the country’s two VVER-440 reactors due to be supplied from 2024.

Energoatom operates four nuclear plants in Ukraine, with a total of 15 units. It reported on 1 June that all the plants were operating within the usual safe limits, with eight of the units currently connected to the grid, and the others shut for maintenance or being held in reserve.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi continues to seek access to Zaporizhyzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, but has so far not managed to get agreement for inspectors to visit the plant, which is still being operated by its Ukrainian staff, while being under the control of Russian military forces.

The IAEA does, however, have a team back at Chernobyl – the second mission there in six weeks. The IAEA said that during the three-day visit “the team of IAEA specialists will provide support on radiation protection, safety of waste management and nuclear security”.

“In addition, IAEA inspectors and technicians will verify declared nuclear material and activities and confirm the functioning of remote safeguards data transmission” from Chernobyl to IAEA headquarters.

Chernobyl was occupied by Russian forces from 24 February until the end of March, when they withdrew. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development estimated last month that at least GBP100 million was needed to repair damage and replace equipment and other infrastructure as a result of the occupation.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine said that an IAEA inspection took place at the Rivne nuclear power plant last week, under the auspices of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – the purpose of these kind of inspections is to verify the declared nuclear material at the site.

Source: World Nuclear News