Rosatom: Mixing different types of nuclear fuel at the Kozloduy NPP poses a serious safety risk
The Russian corporation has not received inquiries from our nuclear plant about their intentions to switch fuel. However, the operator will be fully responsible for these actions
Organizations within the state corporation "Rosatom" have always strictly fulfilled and continue to fulfill all their contractual obligations, have a reputation as reliable and responsible suppliers. We have always treated this with priority attention and have not allowed disruptions and delays in deliveries despite any external factors arising. This was conveyed in a letter to the Energy Minister Rosen Hristov from the Russian corporation "Rosatom". The reason for their letter is a statement by the rulers in Bulgaria that the Russian side is not a reliable partner and is experiencing difficulties in the delivery and collection of nuclear fuel from the Kozloduy NPP. The letter was sent this month to the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy and was signed by the deputy general director of the Russian state corporation "Rosatom" Kiril Komarov, 3eNews saw.
"TVEL joint-stock company has fully fulfilled its nuclear fuel supply program for 2022, including for EU member countries. In total, more than 20 shipments of nuclear fuel have been made to our European customers, of which two deliveries were made to Kozloduy NPP ". All these deliveries were made on time, without any breakdowns and delays. We have absolutely no doubt that the delivery program for 2023 and the following years will also be completed without delay," Rosatom is categorical.
The document also states that "on our side, there are no difficulties that could prevent the fulfillment of the contractual obligations of the Russian organizations. It is significant that precisely on December 22, 2022 - the day you made this statement - it was successful the delivery of the next batch of fresh nuclear fuel for the Paksh NPP in Hungary has been completed. The route of this delivery also passes through the Black Sea and through the territory of Bulgaria," explains Komarov.
Joint-stock company TVEL has not come up with an initiative to make any changes to the current contract for the supply of nuclear fuel for the Kozloduy NPP, which the Bulgarian media write about, quoting you, Rosatom also points out.
An insurance problem halts the removal of spent nuclear fuel
Organizations from the Russian corporation value their reputation as reliable suppliers and have never used their contracts to put pressure on partners. The deputy general director of Rosatom adds that the license of the Federal State United Enterprise "Mayak Production Association" to carry out nuclear fuel processing activities has not been revoked, this activity continues to be carried out at the moment. The export of spent fuel nuclear fuel from the Kozloduy NPP in 2022 has been postponed several times, both due to the unresolved issue of concluding an insurance contract on the Bulgarian side, and for objective reasons due to the low level of the Danube River. In this regard, a jointly agreed decision was made its postponement to 2023 is clear from the letter. It was the lack of removal of spent nuclear fuel last year that caused a number of politicians to explain how important it is to diversify the supply of fresh fuel. However, none of them explain what will happen to this fuel since it must remain and be stored in our country.
On the occasion of Rosen Hristov's statements that the fifth unit of the Kozloduy NPP will switch to Westinghouse fuels, Komarov also expresses his concerns: "doubts are raised by the assumption that in the process of implementing the fuel from an alternative supplier in a proper way all the necessary justifications are met, first of all for the case when the fuel will be operated in mixed active zones. For such a scenario, ensuring the safe operation of the power units, as well as the normal functioning of the internal reactor control system, is possible only with the provision of input data and preparation of the relevant estimates with the participation of both suppliers. In addition, the state corporation "Rosatom" and the organizations included in its composition did not receive the relevant inquiries from the Kozloduy NPP. This basically means that the supplier and the producer of basic equipment for our nuclear power plant is not familiar with the technical details and the intention of the Bulgarians authorities to replace the nuclear fuel used so far.
A number of nuclear experts also have concerns about using a different nuclear fuel at the home nuclear power plant. The reason is that tests in other European countries showed deviations from the normal operation of the blocks. An example in this regard is the Czech Republic, which operates similar to the Bulgarian reactors. There, however, they abandoned the use of American nuclear fuel produced by Westinghouse. The American company continued testing at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant before the Russian invasion there. Samples from Kyiv and the surrounding area were more successful, according to the data of the American company. We remind you that it is Westinghouse that is currently evaluating the possibilities of implementing alternative nuclear fuel at the Kozloduy NPP. The results of this assessment have not yet been made public.
"The exploitation of a mixed core without proper calculations and justifications is a serious risk from the point of view of nuclear safety, and the responsibility for this will be borne entirely by the operator of the NPP," Rosatom stated categorically in its letter to the Bulgarian authorities.
"Rosatom" remains fully open to dialogue based on trust and exchange of information on the entire complex of issues of Russian-Bulgarian cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, Kiril Komarov concludes his letter.
So far, there has been no reaction from the Bulgarian Ministry of Energy regarding the questions raised. 3eNews will send questions to Rosen Hristov's department to clarify the situation surrounding the supply and removal of spent nuclear fuel from the Kozloduy NPP.