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Ukraine to take part in project of conversion of Russian VVER reactors at European NPPs to Westinghouse nuclear fuel

KYIV. March 7 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The State Enterprise Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety will take part in the APIS project, which provides for the replacement of the Russian supplier of nuclear fuel TVEL by the American Westinghouse Electric Company for Soviet-made VVER reactors at European nuclear power plants.

“The APIS project, first of all, provides for the development of a new generation fuel design and regulatory documentation for its implementation at VVER-type reactors in European countries seeking to reduce, or even eliminate, dependence on Russia,” the center said on its website.

As the state-owned enterprise explained, the APIS project is being implemented with the financial support of the European Commission. It aims to introduce the safe supply of Westinghouse fuel for both VVER-440 and VVER-1000 reactors. The project is designed for three years. During this time, it is expected to develop all the necessary regulatory documentation for licensing and loading Westinghouse fuel into the VVER cores of European NPPs.

The kick-off meeting for the APIS project took place at the end of February 2023 in Västerås (Sweden) at the office of Westinghouse Electric Sweden (WES).

The State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety under the APIS will perform work within seven out of 11 work packages and will lead the work package, which will study the impact of the introduction of new generation fuel on the long-term operation of power units. The Center specialists are also expected to participate in knowledge dissemination activities.

As the center recalled, Ukraine has a unique experience in diversifying fuel for VVER-1000 reactors. Currently, seven cores of VVER-1000 reactors are loaded with Westinghouse fuel.

“Next in line are VVER-440 power units No. 1, 2 of the Rivne NPP. It is predicted that in the spring the second power unit will start operating with the fuel of the American company in the core,” the State Enterprise added.

According to the center, preparatory work for the introduction of American fuel is currently being carried out, in particular, at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant (Bulgaria).

In addition, for the further implementation of the project, Westinghouse and Spanish Enusa entered into an agreement on cooperation in production of fuel for VVER-440.

Among the advantages of Westinghouse fuel, the Center named its high manufacturability: in case of depressurization of individual American-made fuel elements, they can be replaced and the fuel cartridge returned to operation, while Russian assemblies, the rest of which will still be finalizing their service life at Ukrainian NPPs, in such situations become unsuitable for further use.

In addition, Westinghouse fuel will increase the capacity of NPP power units up to 105-110%, the center stated.