Mourning the Chernobyl Tragedy’s 33rd Anniversary, Ukraine Views the Rise of Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility as the Harbinger of a Robust Nuclear Future

Ukraine’s Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF), world’s first, is being constructed only a few miles from the site of the Chernobyl accident. The CSFSF, designed for 100-year service life, will receive and store used fuel in a robust confinement system shipped from nine of Ukraine’s reactors. This facility will be a litmus test for the Country’s national nuclear generator, Energoatom, to manage its used fuel safely which is necessary to realize the nation’s ambitions to substantially replace its coal-fired plants with “walk away” safe nuclear reactors. 

Flags aflutter at the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

The CSFSF was a centerpiece of the Country’s attention as it mourned the 33rd anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Accompanied by Energoatom President Yuriy Nedashkovskiy, Atom Project Engineering Director General Yuriy Sheiko, State Nuclear Regulator Chairman Hryhoriy Plachkov, and State Agency for Exclusion Zone Chairman Vitaliy Petruk, the Ukrainian Cabinet of Minister’s delegation led by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman visited the construction site of the Central Storage Facility in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone on April 26, the day of the disaster. Extolling the facility, which is 75% complete, the Prime Minister said, “Successful implementation and commissioning of the Central Storage Facility for spent nuclear fuel will form Energoatom’s substantial contribution to Ukraine’s energy security. Operation a storage facility for spent nuclear fuel will strengthen Ukraine’s economy, improve investment attractiveness and become the final phase in gaining the country’s nuclear energy sector independence.”

Ukrainian dignitaries inspect CSFSF, Prime Minister Groysman to the right of Energoatom President Nedashkovsky (in yellow jacket)

Speaking on the somber occasion, Energoatom President Yuriy Nedashkovskiy provided details of the works implemented at three Ukrainian nuclear power plants: Rivne, Khmelnytskyy and South Ukraine, from where the spent nuclear fuel will be transported to the Central Storage Facility. He informed the audience that “over 75% of capital construction at the Central Storage Facility site is complete by now. In parallel, Energoatom is actively performing modifications of equipment required for implementation of Holtec International’s technology for handling of spent nuclear fuel. These modifications are currently ongoing at the Rivne, Khmelnytskyy and South Ukraine nuclear power plants: refueling machines and polar cranes at reactor units’ containment buildings are being modified. All these works are synchronized in time with manufacturing of equipment, as modernization works at nuclear power plants can only be done during the planned outage time, when reactors are stopped. We have already received from our American partners, Holtec, a total of 45 out of 64 units of main and auxiliary equipment. The work on this project runs according to schedule. Energoatom plans to complete construction and pre-commissioning works in the next year’s first quarter and proceed with commissioning of the first start-up complex in the second quarter by deploying the first storage modules with spent nuclear fuel on the storage pad. The year 2020 will be critical for Energoatom and Ukraine in general in all aspects of implementation of the Central Storage Project.”

Re-bars laid for the CSFSF Storage pad in view

Mr. Nedashkovskiy also said that rapid development of infrastructure in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone will allow not only to resolve spent fuel and waste management issues but will also ensure development of the national nuclear energy sector in accordance with the Ukrainian Energy Strategy set down by the government as the national blueprint till 2035.

The Central Storage Facility employs Holtec’s HI-STORM vertical ventilated system. High capacity double wall canisters will be brought to the CSFSF in Holtec supplied HI-STAR 190 transport packages where the canisters will be transferred to the HI-STORM modules in a Holtec patented Canister Transfer Facility. First systems are expected to be loaded in 2020. Holtec’s HI-STORM system features the highest capacity for storing VVER fuel used in Russian-origin reactors. The Company is the sole Western supplier of storage systems for VVER reactors.

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