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NOVOVORONEZH, November 20 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday visited the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant where he observed the training of operators, and then at the exhibition of new technology has undergone a test, which had shown that the prime minister did not hold explosives.
Medvedev familiarised himself in detail with the operation of the fifth power unit of the Novovoronezh NPP, which was put into operation in 1980, and after a recent upgrade will run until 2035. Head of the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom Sergei Kiriyenko said that the upgrade costs 14 billion roubles, but now the unit belongs to the third, most modern generation and even has an earthquake protection system, which automatically shuts down the reactor. “Are there seismic threats in the Voronezh Region?” the prime minister wondered. “No, but we install all these systems after Fukushima (the Japanese nuclear power plant accident in April 2011),” Kiriyenko said.
Passing through the turbine hall, Medvedev came to the plant’s control centre. Looking at numerous devices and sensors there he wondered how many parameters a plant operator should control. According to the duty operators, they watch 18 thousand parameters. The control console has also been upgraded, but “the control was retained not with a computer mouse, but with buttons, which is more convenient for the operators,” Kiriyenko said. He specified that the control of the Novovoronezh NPP-2 that is currently under construction will be carried out by a computer mouse.
A full-length plant simulator is used for the preparation and training of operators on each NPP unit. Medvedev visited the training, during which the personnel drilled actions in the case of a very serious radiological accident - primary circuit leak. To the sound of sirens the shift supervisor gave the command: “Take immediate action!” The “emergency” was liquidated in just three minutes. The prime minister admitted that he did not know that the NPP has different simulators. Kiriyenko explained that the simulators must fully replicate each specific power unit, so that the operator could respond in seconds.
After a tour of the NPP, before the meeting of the presidium of the RF Presidential Council for Economic Modernisation and Innovative Development where innovative nuclear technology is under discussion, the prime minister visited an exhibition of advanced systems design. There he was shown the “project of tomorrow” – VVER-TOI reactor, which will be completed at the end of this year. It will reduce the cost of the nuclear power plant’s building by 20 percent, extend its service life from 50 to 60 years and reduce the building timeframe from 54 to 48 months. The prime minister was particularly pleased that stations equipped with such unit will be able to withstand the fall of a 400-tonne aircraft. “This is the first project with such characteristics in the world, because it can endure the fall of even a fully loaded Boeing,” the head of Rosatom said, adding that such units will be built, in particular, in the Nizhny Novgorod Region and in Turkey, where Russia will build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant.
Medvedev has also seen the NPP “generation after tomorrow” layouts, which include a new reactor, new fuel and a closed nuclear cycle.
The nuclear engineers have also settled the problem of liquid radioactive waste treatment. The prime minister was shown a palm-size “tortoise” that turned out to be waste residues after processing. The sensor showed that the “tortoise” emits radiation less than the granite embankment of the Neva River in St. Petersburg. The system of on-line monitoring of the radiation background that is applied by Rosatom also aroused the interest of the RF prime minister. He checked with an iPad the background radiation around the Leningrad NPP, which, according to Kiriyenko, “is ten times lower than on the popular Brazilian beaches.”
With other equipment developed by Rosatom – supercomputers, Medvedev had familiarised himself a few years ago during a visit to the Sarov-based Federal Nuclear Centre. Now he was shown three such units with the capacity of 1, 3 and 5 teraFLOPS. In the view of the RF government head, such domestically produced computers are very useful for many enterprises. These supercomputers are already used by KAMAZ and the United Aircraft Corporation.
Organisations of Rosatom have created several neutron generators for space exploration, medicine and law enforcement. Medvedev tested the operation of one of such devices putting his hand to a small panel. “Clear” – the test result appeared in a second. Thus the device checked whether the person has held explosives over the last few days. Asked by the prime minister about the test precision, the experts have assured him that it can detect in six seconds 20 nanograms of a dangerous substance.
The RF prime minister believes another novelty – reinforcing fabric that is five times stronger than steel will also be in demand in the earthquake-prone regions. And if a house is covered with it, it will not be destroyed even by a very strong earthquake. “This technology is inexpensive enough,” said Medvedev, recalling considerable funds are currently allocated from the budget for the settlement of the seismic safety problems. An item on the stand vaguely resembling a shotgun attracted the prime minister’s attention. “This is a failed prototype of the Olympic Sochi torch,” the developers said. They said they regret that the Olympic Games’ organising committee, instead of the light torch made of the new material, have chosen the traditional metal torch.