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Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant's biggest problem related to spent nuclear fuel

Friday, 15 March 2024, 16:57
Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant's biggest problem related to spent nuclear fuel
Stock photo: Getty Images

The use of nuclear fuel is the most important problem for the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). There are issues with how to replace it and where to store it.

Source: Herman Halushchenko, Minister of Energy of Ukraine, in an interview with Ukrinform.

"Nuclear fuel is the most pressing issue right now. What should we do with it? Its service life is six years. We can’t simply use the fuel after the service life period stated by the manufacturer has passed," Herman Halushchenko said.

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So, to continue operation, one would need confirmation from the manufacturer that it is safe to do so. Today, there are two types of fuel at the ZNPP, produced by the Russian company TVEL Fuel Company (TVEL) and the American Westinghouse. The plant must assume responsibility for safe operation beyond the established time limit. However, the probability that the manufacturer will agree to it is minimal.

"Accordingly, if there is no consent to continue operation, then we would have to take this fuel – and it is located in the active zones of all six reactors – and dispose of it somehow. How do we do this? What personnel will do this? And the most difficult question is where this spent nuclear fuel will be stored," Herman Halushchenko added.

Background:

  • The operating time of nuclear fuel at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) is expiring, and the Russians will not be able to reload it.
  • On 8 March, the IAEA Board of Governors supported a draft resolution on nuclear safety, security and guarantees in Ukraine developed by Ukraine by a majority vote.
  • Кafael Grossi, the head of the IAEA, stated that restricting access of Ukrainian personnel to the Zaporizhzhia NPP seized by Russia does not pose a direct security threat.
  • Power engineers connected the ZNPP to the second power line after repairing the damage caused by the Russians. It had been operating on a single power line since 20 February.

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