Irradiated fuel assemblies of Russian design returned to a ROSATOM’s company

20.08.2014 17:20 The Russian irradiated fuel damaged at Paks NPP (Hungary) in 2003 has been repatriated. The fuel was damaged when the plant management decided to use the French equipment and Framatome ANP’s technology to handle it. The fuel was delivered to a ROSATOM’s company for subsequent treatment. A total of 30 damaged irradiated fuel assemblies (IFAs) of VVER-440 reactor totaling 3,356.7 kg (with regard to uranium) placed in 68 storage tubes were repatriated. The fuel was shipped by rail in full compliance with the international and Russian requirements for nuclear material physical protection during shipment. The operation was carried out following a positive statement issued by the State Environmental Expert Review Authority.

The fuel shipment from Paks NPP was carried out in the framework of the intergovernmental agreements, including the Agreement between the Government of the USSR and the Government of the People’s Republic of Hungary concerning the cooperation in building a nuclear power plant in the People’s Republic of Hungary of 28.12.1966 and in accordance with the Protocol of 29.04.2004 to the Agreement between the Government of the USSR and the Government of the People’s Republic of Hungary concerning the cooperation in building a nuclear power plant in the People’s Republic of Hungary, and other documents.

The fuel was delivered to PA Mayak where it will be subsequently reprocessed using the adopted technology. Some of the cash (about US$ 2.2 million) to be received under this foreign trade deal will be spent to finance social and environmental measures in the territory of Chelyabinsk Region in accordance with the Special Environmental Program of Rehabilitation of Radiation-contaminated Areas of Chelyabinsk Region, which was developed and approved as per the established procedure as required by Federal Law No. 92-FZ of 10.07.2001 “On Special Environmental Programs of Rehabilitation of Radiation-contaminated Areas”.

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Completion of the safe shipment of damaged nuclear fuel marks the end of the multi-year joint effort of the Hungarian and Russian specialists aimed at eliminating consequences of the accident resulted from the use of western equipment. In April 2003 the Russian Federation represented by Minatom of Russia promptly responded to a request of the Hungarian leadership to assist in retrieval and subsequent reprocessing of irradiated fuel assemblies at Paks NPP Unit 2. The fuel assemblies were damaged in the course of washing operation that used the technology and equipment of Framatome ANP (France). The event was rated Level 3 as per the international scale INES (“serious incident”). JSC TVEL won the international tender for recovery works. The works were executed using unique technologies and special equipment designed with participation of NIIAR, Scientific and Production Company Sosny and other entities of Russia’s nuclear industry. In January 2007 JSC TVEL successfully completed the recovery activity project at the plant. The project implementation allowed the Hungarian party resuming commercial operation of Paks-2 within the shortest time possible, while the Russian party gained unique competences in the area of radiation safety. Besides, the joint work to eliminate consequences of this serious incident strengthened Russian-Hungarian nuclear cooperation; several Russian nuclear workers were given state awards of the Republic of Hungary.

Paks NPP is the only nuclear power plant in Hungary. It was built in 1982-1987 with participation of soviet specialists. The plant operates four VVER-440 reactors totaling 1860 MW capacity. The plant generates about 40% of Hungary’s electricity. Over the entire operating life Paks NPP has used Russia-made fuel. The existing contract between JSC TVEL and Paks NPP for nuclear fuel supplies was signed in 1999 and is valid until the end of service life of the nuclear power plant (considering planned life extension until 2037).

Communications Department of ROSATOM