Astravets NPP used fuel to be stored in Belarus, then shipped to Russia – official

Astravets NPP’s first power-generating unit may be launched in the autumn of 2019, Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadzyuk said on Monday. The official is taking part in the 11th International Forum Atomexpo in Sochi.

According to him, pre-commissioning is underway now, the next step followed by the inspection will include hydrotesting, circular flushing, hot and cold functional tests.

“If there are no force majeure circumstances during functional tests, we will be ready for a physical launch this autumn,” Mikhail Mikhadzyuk said.

It is expected that the NPP will send its used nuclear fuel to Russia, but it will be stored in Belarus for about 10 years before the shipment, the top official stressed.

“When we were putting together the strategy, we considered three different options for handling the spent nuclear fuel. We’ve considered the options and decided in favor of storing the waste in Belarus, accumulating it in the cooling pond for ten years or possibly slightly less than that. Once we’ve accumulated a certain amount, we will ship it for processing. And we get back the processed waste in a number of years as is the world practice,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the Deputy Minister.

The Belarusian NPP with two VVER-1200 reactors with a total capacity of 2,400 MW is being built according to the Russian project near Astravets in the Hrodna region. The first power unit is scheduled to be commissioned in 2019, the second one — in 2020.

Nuclear power opponents urge Belarusian authorities to halt Astravets NPP construction

Lithuania has repeatedly criticized the construction of the nuclear power plant and encouraged the rest of the countries of the United Europe to not buy electricity from the would-be NPP. Our neighbour is not only concerned about the proximity of the station to Vilnius, but also with a number of emergencies during the NPP construction. Among the emergencies are a reactor vessel incident, when it fell during the transportation, the collapse of the concrete structure at the site between the reactors. Our channel was the first to report on the incident. Before the official request of the Lithuanian side, representatives of the Belarusian NPP denied this information.