Asked about the Ukrainian authorities’ decision to import nuclear fuel manufactured by the US company Westinghouse, Vladimir Gutenyov, first deputy chief of the State Duma’s industry committee, said the development caused a mixed feeling of regret and alarm.
“We do hope that our partners and competitors in the United States will take a very responsible attitude to these supplies and will certainly coordinate the upgraded elements in question with the reactor’s designers,” Gutenyov said. Otherwise, he warns “there will emerge the need to appeal to international watchdogs regulating relations inside the nuclear power industry.”
Earlier, Gutenyov warned of the risks the Ukrainian nuclear power plants’ decision to stop using nuclear fuel of Russian manufacture would be fraught with. He recalled the abortive experiments to use Westinghouse fuel assemblies TBC-W in Ukrainian nuclear power plants.
“Their introduction at Ukraine’s nuclear power plants began in 2005. After a test operation period one pilot assembly TBC-W proved non-hermetic. It was a miracle no disaster followed. The design had to be changed,” the legislator recalled. “Nevertheless, in the process of further operation several damages of fuel assemblies were identified. Ukraine eventually made a decision to cancel plans for loading the reactors’ cores with TBC-W assemblies.”
Gutenyov also recalled that during routine maintenance at the South Ukraine NPP in 2012-2013 certain flaws in the operation of fuel assemblies were registered.
“The Czech Republic and Finland dropped attempts at using US fuel assemblies for the same reason,” the legislator said.
He explained that Ukraine’s nuclear power plants were equipped with Soviet-designed reactors loaded with fuel of Russian manufacture and “any further attempts at using US-made fuel assemblies will inevitably cause the risk of Ukrainian reactors’ failure and aggravate the probability of man-made disasters in Ukraine and in the whole of Europe.”
Ukraine has allowed supplies of upgraded nuclear fuel from US manufacturer Westinghouse, the first deputy chief of Ukraine’s state nuclear inspectorate, Mikhail Gashev, said. “On September 17 I signed three basic documents. Positive findings regarding the upgraded Westinghouse nuclear fuel is one. The experts’ conclusion is another. And lastly, the permission to bring upgraded Westinghouse nuclear fuel into Ukraine,” he said.
Gashev said “in December the fuel will be delivered to the South Ukraine NPP and loaded into the third reactor in late December or early January.