Holtec International announced on December 19 that Energoatom, Ukraine’s national nuclear energy company, has begun transporting spent nuclear fuel from the nation’s operating reactors to its newly built and commissioned Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF). The facility is expected to save Ukraine $200 million annually through avoided payment to the Russian Federation for transport and storage to that country.
According to a December 15 report by Interfax, a total of 13 spent fuel containers have already been placed at the CSFSF, which is currently operating under a three-year trial operation permit.
Background: Located inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the CSFSF is designed for the long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel from the South Ukraine, Khmelnytskyi, and Rivne nuclear power plants.
Holtec, under contract by Energoatom, completed the construction and licensing of the CSFSF in 2021. Transport of spent fuel to the facility was to begin in early 2022 but was delayed by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The design life of the CSFSF is 100 years, although its service life is expected to be many times longer, according to Holtec.
They said it: “Safe, secure, and reliable operations of the Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility are critically important for Ukraine’s nuclear energy industry to ensure continued supply of electricity to our citizens during the ongoing unjust war waged by Russia against our peaceful country,” said Petro Kotin, president of Energoatom.
“We have put an end to the Russian monopoly on the used nuclear fuel market,” said Ukraine energy minister German Galushchenko. “We have a unique centralized spent fuel storage facility, and we plan to build a manufacturing plant for the production of containers for storage of used nuclear fuel in our country.”
Further cooperation: Holtec said it has also agreed in principle with Energoatom to establish a manufacturing facility for localizing the production of equipment for Holtec’s small modular reactors, spent nuclear fuel storage and transport systems, and other nuclear energy-related needs of Ukraine.
A joint venture between Energoatom and Holtec would establish a Ukrainian manufacturing facility and technology center that would host an engineering/design center, space for material storage, component manufacturing, assembly, and testing, as well as training facilities, including an SMR simulator.
“The introduction of advanced technologies and the construction of Holtec state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Ukraine will be of great importance for the postwar economic recovery of our country,” said Kotin.
In April 2023, Holtec and Energoatom signed a cooperation agreement that envisions the construction of up to 20 of Holtec’s SMR-160 units in Ukraine, with grid connection for the pilot project achieved by March 2029.