Newly connected Belarusian reactor powers down

November 12, 2020, 12:00PMNuclear News

On November 8, less than a week after becoming Belarus’s first nuclear reactor to be connected to the power grid, and only one day after a visit to the Belarusian site from the country’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, to celebrate the accomplishment, Belarusian-1 was forced to cease power production, a report from the Associated Press states.

What happened: According to the AP’s November 10 report, the stoppage was due to the breakdown of some electrical equipment. The story quotes Oleg Sobolev, identified as a consultant at the Belarusian Emergency Ministry’s Department of Nuclear and Radiation Safety, as saying, “The turbine is stopped. There is indeed no electricity generation at the nuclear power plant, but this does not affect nuclear and radiation safety.”

Also cited in the piece is a November 9 statement from the Belarusian Ministry of Energy noting that “the need to replace certain electrical measuring equipment” was identified during tests. The statement failed to clarify what prompted the need or how long it would take to replace the equipment, the AP added.

Background: The Belarusian construction project, located in the Grodno region of Belarus, features twin 1,109-MWe pressurized water reactors, supplied by Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation. The units are VVER-1200 Generation III+ designs, model AES 2006.

The startup program for Unit 1 began on August 7, when the first fuel assembly with fresh nuclear fuel was loaded into the reactor. The reactor achieved first criticality on October 11.

Once fully completed and in commercial operation, the reactors are expected to supply approximately 18 billion kWh of low-carbon electricity to the Belarus national grid every year, according to Rosatom.

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