Ostrovets plant begins physical start-up

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Ostrovets plant begins physical start-up

Unit 1 of the nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus has achieved first criticality, Russia’s Rosatom announced today. The milestone was reached at 2.26am (local time) on 11 October. First criticality, also referred to as the minimum controlled power level, is reached when neutron flux is recorded in a reactor at a level sufficient to sustain a fission chain reaction. It is considered to be the final stage of the physical start-up procedure, and enables personnel to verify whether the physical characteristics of the reactor core comply with the design requirements.

Based in Ostrovets, in the Grodno region, this is Belarus’ first nuclear power plant. Fuel loading at unit 1, which is equipped with two VVER-1200 reactors, was conducted in August.

Rosatom said specialists will conduct more than 50 physical experiments on the neutronic characteristics of the reactor’s first fuel charge, as well as confirm the operational reliability of the reactor’s entire monitoring and safety systems.

The results of these experiments will be passed on to Belarusian nuclear watchdog Gosatomnadzor, whose permission is required for power start-up. If the results are found satisfactory and permission is granted, the unit will then be prepared for power start-up when the reactor power is gradually increased.

Atomenergomash JSC is a supplier of all the key equipment of the nuclear island for the Belarusian plant. The fuel was produced at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant and its enrichment level varies between 1.3% and 4.4%.

An intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Belarus specifically on cooperation in the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus was signed in March 2011.

Unit 1 is the first unit of the newest Gen 3+ built using Russian technologies abroad. Currently, three power units of this type are in operation in Russia: two at the Novovoronezh plant and one at the Leningrad plant. Furthermore, in July, construction was completed and start-up operations began at the fourth Russian Gen 3+ power unit – Leningrad unit 6.

Further VVER-1200 units are either planned or are already under construction in Bangladesh, Egypt, Finland, Hungary and Turkey.

Quoting from WNN

Last Updated on October 20, 2020