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Westinghouse nuclear fuel inspected at SUNPP power unit 3

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11.03.2021

During scheduled preventive outage at South-Ukraine NPP power unit 3, the active core of which since 2018 consists exclusively of Westinghouse fuel assemblies, nuclear fuel was inspected with the use of the fuel inspection and repair equipment (FIRE). The works lasted from February 15 to March 5 involving professionals of SS "South-Ukraine NPP", SS "Atomremontservice" (SS ARS), the manufacturing company "Westinghouse" as well as employees of the National Science Center "Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology" (NSC KIPT).

"The inspection was preceded by a challenging planning stage along with engineering solutions and programs development followed by their approval by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine," noted Serhiy Povod, the Head of the Nuclear Safety Department at SUNPP. - As a result, a routine inspection of eight fuel assemblies was conducted successfully, one spent fuel assembly was repaired as well as the second stage of Atomremontservice specialists training was provided under the guidance of Westinghouse representatives. Additional data confirming the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel in a dry storage facility at Zaporizhzhya NPP have also been collected.”

Starting with a routine inspection of eight fuel assemblies (FАs) with the use of FIRE, two-week work is aimed, complementary to regulatory control, at obtaining additional data concerning the fuel technical condition for confirming design specification at the current reactor core operation stage. According to experts, the inspection of eight fuel assemblies has confirmed their full compliance with the stated characteristics and further operation feasibility in the reactor core.

NSC KIPT employees working alongside Atomremontservice specialists were given a unique opportunity to examine the condition of not only fuel assemblies intended to be loaded into the core, but also the spent fuel assembly. The obtained data will be used to justify the safe storage of spent nuclear fuel in the spent nuclear fuel dry storage facility at Zaporizhzhya NPP.

At the final stage, the leaking fuel assembly was inspected and repaired after four years of operation. Visual examination, search for leaking fuel element, disassembly of the fuel assembly and replacement of damaged fuel element with simulator were performed. All works were carried out using FIRE operating means under the approved program. South-Ukraine NPP and the manufacturing plant specialists will analyze the obtained data for further use to improve new fuel assemblies operating performance and reliability.

Nuclear power engineers emphasize that gaining unique experience is of great importance while such tasks performing. Atomremontservice specialists under the guidance of colleagues from Westinghouse have completed the second stage of training in the application of irradiated fuel assemblies repair technology with the use of FIRE. The American colleagues pointed out the high level of training and professional competence of the staff, the perfect theoretical basis, developed technical skills along with well-organized work on the part of SUNPP.

All fuel assembly inspection and repair works during scheduled preventive outage -2021 at power unit 3 were carried out under the «Nuclear fuel inspection scheduled plan at NPPs of Energoatom in 2021». The successful result is achieved due to careful planning and professional approach to the work of employees of South-Ukraine NPP and the involved organizations.

As a reminder, on January 2, SUNPP unit 3 was disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid for a scheduled preventive outage lasting 120 days. During scheduled preventive outage carried out annually at a pre-planned time, equipment is repaired and inspected to confirm its technical condition, as well as outfit is replaced and modernized to improve the safety, reliability and technical and economic performance of NPPs. Another compulsory scheduled preventive outage procedure is refueling.

For reference: SUNPP is the basis of the South Ukraine Power Complex located in the south of Ukraine in Mykolaiv region. It meets the electricity needs of an area with a population of over five million people. The power complex includes South Ukraine NPP (3 nuclear power units with a total installed capacity of 3000 MW), Oleksandrivska Hydro Power Plant located on the Southern Buh river (2 hydraulic power units, with a total capacity of 9.8 MW) and Tashlyk Hydro Pumped Storage Power Plant (the first stage of the plant has been commissioned, including 2 hydraulic power units, with a total generating capacity of 320 MW, the second stage, i.e. hydraulic power unit 3, is under construction).