Fuel loading has commenced at Unit 1 of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, according to Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation. The first fuel assembly was loaded into the unit at 11:45 a.m. (local time) on August 7, the company said, adding that a total of 163 assemblies will have been loaded by month’s end.
The plant, Belarus’s only nuclear power facility, houses two 1,109-MWe VVER-1200 pressurized water reactors. Unit 1 is scheduled to begin commercial operation later this year, with a Unit 2 startup slated for 2021.
What they’re saying: “The Republic of Belarus has become the owner of a power unit built according to the latest Gen 3+ technologies,” said Alexey Likhachev, Rosatom’s director general. “This technology has been proved and tested through the operation of similar power units in Russia. They meet all the post-Fukushima safety requirements, and all the IAEA missions have recognized their reliability. It is very important for us that we have built the first VVER-1200 unit abroad in the Republic of Belarus, a good neighbor of ours.”
Background: Construction of the Belarusian plant, located in the country’s Grodno region, began in November 2013 with the pouring of concrete for the nuclear foundation of Unit 1 under a preliminary license issued to the Directorate for Nuclear Power Plant Construction in September of that year. The application for a full construction license was submitted to the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department (Gosatomnadzor) in February 2013 and was issued in April 2014. That same month, construction of Unit 2 began.
In October 2018, the International Atomic Energy Agency sent a team of experts to the Belarusian plant to carry out a 10-day emergency preparedness review mission, concluding that the plant had solid arrangements in place for emergency preparedness and response.