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Disposing of dead nuclear reactors – problem not yet solved

The problem of disposing of this kind of reactors is ripe everywhere, not only in Russia..this branch of the nuclear industry is least developed technically, technologically and marketingwise,..Apart from Russia, this kind of reactor is used in a number of European countries

Russia to retire uranium-graphite reactors  Voice of Russia, Oleg Nekhai , Sep 30, 2010 Russian nuclear scientists intend to shut down uranium-graphite reactors on a mass scale. An experimental demonstration centre has been opened at the reactor plant of the Siberian Chemical Complex. In the long run, this service will be provided on a commercial basis.

The problem of disposing of this kind of reactors is ripe everywhere, not only in Russia. For over 60 years of nuclear research, a considerable number of nuclear installations has been accumulated all over the world. Now their work should be terminated. Meanwhile, this branch of the nuclear industry is least developed technically, technologically and marketingwise, says Oleg Boyarinov, the director of the new centre.

“There is no foreign experience to speak of, this is Achilles’ heel of nuclear research. It is important to understand the economy of the process of disposing of reactors. The methods we used in the past and use now have a local character. No one in the market offers a comprehensive solution for retiring a reactor completely, solving the problem of the spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. Now companies offer to do only part of the job.”.

The Siberian complex manufactured uranium-graphite reactors already in the 1950s to produce military plutonium and to generate heat and electric power. The RBMK reactor, now known as the Chernobyl reactor, was modelled on  uranium-graphite ones. Now, after so many years have passed since the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, this reactor has changed beyond recognition. At present, reactors of this kind are used at a number of Russian nuclear power plants but in a few years they will have to be shut down, in particular at the Leningradsky, Kursky and Smolensky plants. All in all, there are 10 such reactors. The Siberian Chemical Complex has 5 idle uranium-graphite reactors, says Oleg Boyarinov.

“We have opened an experimental demonstration centre and have created a technology lending itself to mass production. We would like to use it at power plants where the reactors are being shut down or are planned to be shut down. We stopped the first reactors in 1991, two latest were closed in 2008.”

The amassed experience allows experts of the Siberian Chemical Complex to rely on a commission to close different kinds of uranium-graphite reactors. It is also possible to start using water moderated water cooled reactors. Apart from Russia, this kind of reactors is used in a number of European countries at nuclear power plants based on Russian technology, such as the Kozloduy plant in Bulgaria and the Loviisa plant in Finland. This means that the Siberian Chemical Complex can become one of the leading international operators in shutting down nuclear power-generating units.

Russia to retire uranium-graphite reactors: Voice of Russia

October 1, 2010 - Posted by | decommission reactor, Russia | , , , , ,

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