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First unit of Leningrad nuclear power plant shut down after 45 years of safe operation

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The operation of the first power-generating unit of the Leningrad nuclear power plant was halted at 23:30 on 21 December 2018 after 45 years of safe operation. It was the leading unit in the RBMK-1000 series (light water graphite reactors) and the USSR’s first high-power reactor (1,000MW), BelTA learned from the Information and Public Relations Department of Rosenergoatom Concern.

The reactor was shut down in line with the established procedure. The unit was disconnected from the national power grid without any problems. Since the unit went online on 21 December 1973, it generated 264.9 billion kWh of electricity. It experienced not a single serious incident in this period.

Director of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant Vladimir Pereguda said: “The first unit of the Leningrad nuclear power plant safely and reliably served the national economy in the Soviet time and in modern Russia. The last stage in the lifecycle of any nuclear installation – decommissioning – is about to begin. We now have to reliably and safely perform maintenance on the halted reactor, unload nuclear fuel, and prepare all systems for decommissioning.”

In line with federal norms and rules the shutdown reactor is deemed operational until fuel is removed, which will happen approximately in 2023. Scheduled operations will be performed to remove the fuel, manage the live systems and components, drain, disconnect, and power down decommissioned systems. In essence the entire procedure is no different from a regular repair, this is why the personnel are fully ready for it.

Rosenergoatom Director General Andrei Petrov noted: “The most important thing was done in 2018: an innovative Generation III+ VVER-1200 unit was commissioned before the operation of the first unit was suspended. This is why the replacement of Soviet-era power generating capacity will proceed gradually and unnoticeably for electricity consumers. In comparison with RBMK series the new units have several advantages: they boast state-of-the-art safeguards, their output capacity is 20% larger, the designed lifespan of the main systems is twice as long in comparison with previous-generation units and makes up 60 years.”

Once the first unit is fully decommissioned, the Leningrad nuclear power plant will remain Russia’s largest nuclear power plant with the installed output capacity of 4,200MW. At present the Leningrad nuclear power plant supplies over 50% of the electricity consumed in St Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast.