For the purposes of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices, on 28th May 2004 the USA and Russia signed the bilateral Agreement Concerning Cooperation for the Transfer of Russian-Produced Research Reactor Nuclear Fuel to the Russian Federation that initiated the RRRFR Programme (Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return Programme). This Agreement will remain in force until 28th May 2024.
In the framework of the RRRFR Programme, in order to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons and suppress acts of nuclear terrorism, Russia, with IAEA’s support, is repatriating USSR/RF-produced high-enrichment SNF from Russian-design research reactors built abroad. Thirteen countries participate in the RRRFR Programme: Belarus, Bulgaria, Hungary, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Libya, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and the Czech Republic. Intergovernmental agreements have been signed with all of them to cover SNF repatriation to Russia.
24 unified projects approved by the State Environmental Expert Review Panel have been prepared since 2006 under the RRRFR Programme.
36 failure-free SNF transportations have taken place in the framework of the RRRFR Programme since 2006.
A series 14 TUK cask is a metal structure weighing over 100 tons. The cask body is cast integrally of spheroidal graphite cast iron.
TUK-141O possesses high nuclear and radiation protection properties, higher thermal endurance and is able to withstand serious dynamic impacts that ensures safety of SNF inside the cask.
TUK-141O can be used to transport 18 SFAs versus TUK-13 capacity of 12 SFAs. Besides, the TUK-141O weight, dimensions and design are absolutely compatible with transport and process flowcharts for both VVER-1000 reactor units currently in operation and reactor units of new generations – VVER-1200/TOI including Russian-design international NPPs.
At present, TUK-141O introduction into the transport infrastructure of the nuclear industry is in progress. Besides process (‘cold’) tests already completed at the Concern’s NPPs and FSUE PA Mayak, trials at FSUE GKhK (Mining and Chemical Combine) are expected.
Besides, an upgraded TUK-141O has the potential of being used as a dual-purpose cask for both transport and storage of SNF.
A naval technical base was located at Andreyeva Bay since 1961 and used for storage of spent nuclear fuel (SNF). A radiological accident occurred there in 1982. Later on, the base ceased operation. At present, it stores approximately 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies; however, storage conditions are not consistent with up-to-date safety requirements, pose a serious potential hazard for the environment and might imply risks for the personnel and the public.
Following the initiative of the NDEP Fund and Rosatom, the Strategic Master Plan for dismantling and environmental remediation of decommissioned nuclear fleet units in North-West Russia was developed in 2007. Funding was provided from the RF federal budget against the Federal Target Programme for Dismantling Nuclear Submarines and technical assistance ensured by the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Support Fund (NDEP Fund). The NDEP Fund is administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and unites effort of the Donor countries, such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands etc. The Project also consolidates the effort of other Donors that provide direct funding to a number of works.
FCNRS was involved in construction of two-thirds of all the facilities at Andreyeva Bay, supply of the m/v Rossita, supported shielding installation in the SNF storage facilities, organised activities of all contractors, legal support and supervision of works.
The following key facilities have been built and commissioned at Andreyeva Bay under administration by the Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety:
- Mechanical & Repair Shop with an SNF Decontamination Area
- Transporter for Cask Transfer between the Accumulation Pad and the DSU Enclosure
- Accumulation Pad for SNF TUK Casks
- Retrieval Machine for fuel retrieval from the DSU Tanks
- 50T Crane and two 20T Cranes for handling SNF casks
- Transfer trolley for casks
- Crane on the Pier
- The Rossita cask carrier ship
- SNF Dry Storage Units Enclosure (the core of the SNF Management Complex)
The Enclosure over the Dry Storage Units was one of the most complicated facilities in terms of construction.
17,500 cub.m. of rock was removed during the construction of the DSU Enclosure – the core of the SNF Management Complex. 420 piles were driven down to the rock in the immediate vicinity of the SNF storage tanks. Over 22,000 m of cables were laid across the Site. 1,400 T of steel structures were manufactured and installed under supervision by the FCNRS experts.
This June will see the commencement of the vital process related to nuclear and environmental protection in the Northern region – dispatching first trains carrying SNF from the Andreyeva Bay storage facilities to Mayak for reprocessing. Thirty trains carrying SNF from Andreyeva Bay are expected to remove spent fuel during 10 to 15 years.
A Recognition Letter was received from the Governor of the Murmansk Region for significant contribution to the development and implementation of the project for remediating hazardous nuclear and radiological facilities at Andreyeva Bay.
A Grant Implementing Agreement was placed in the framework of the Nuclear Window of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Programme between the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (the Administrator of grant funds provided by the NDEP Fund) and the Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety. The Agreement was also signed by Rosatom State Corporation.
The objective of the Project is to improve the radiation protection situation and to remove a serious environmental hazard in the region by retrieving the SNF and radwaste from the Lepse and sending it for reprocessing or interim storage.
Rosatom nominated the Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety as the recipient of Grant funds and commissioned FCNRS to act as the Employer for works to be carried out by contractors that were to be selected following the tendering process.
For these purposes, the Project Management Unit for the Lepse Project was established at FCNRS to ensure administration and co-ordination of all activities under the Project in compliance with EBRD’s established rules and procedures and applicable Russian Law.
Specialised storage facilities on board the Lepse contain spent fuel assemblies (SFAs), their cooling period is nearly 40 years. A considerable amount of high and intermediate-level liquid radwaste (LRW) is stored in the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) storage facility channels, in special tanks and in the cooling circuit. A number of containers with solid radwaste (SRW) are arranged in the FMB compartments.
The majority of SFAs stored on board of the Lepse are classified as damaged ones and cannot be unloaded using a standard process.
Removal of SFAs and radwaste from the Lepse SNF storage tanks is a complicated task that can be delivered only by application of a specially developed process using non-standard tools and equipment to be designed under the Project.
As a result of FCNRS’ work under the Project, the Lepse hull was completely dismantled into two large storage packages (LSP). The aft LSP with LRW tanks is completed, with LRW having been drained earlier and the sediments having been cemented, and has been transferred to Saida Bay Long-Term Storage Site for storage. The fore LSP that contains SNF storage tanks is completed.
The Shelter for the Lepse fore LSP defuelling will be completed in Q4, 2017, and specialist equipment for SNF removal and management was manufactured and tested before March 2017.
Thus, the plans for 2017 are to complete the preliminary phase of the Project following whose outcome the dismantling of the ship hull and LSP with SNF storage tanks will be completed, defuelling equipment will be manufactured and tested, and the Shelter will be erected. This will enable commencement of Phase II – cutting out SFA cells. This is scheduled for Q2, 2018.
PAPA-CLASS NUCLEAR POWERED SUBMARINE
The Papa-class nuclear powered submarine (NPS 501) was decommissioned from the Russian Navy in 1989. Recovering operability of equipment and accessories, establishing a specialist area for deployment of the equipment and accessories, FMB upgrading, defuelling and submarine dismantling required considerable allocations that were not available in the Russian budget.
Nevertheless, thanks to the effort by the Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (formerly, FSUE FCNRS), Rosatom managed to reach agreement to include the Papa Class NPS Defuelling Project into the list of projects funded by the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Support Fund established under the aegis of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
In May 2012 the Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (FSUE FCNRS) under the Framework Agreement on a Multinational Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation, with funds provided by the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Support Fund, invited bids for a two-stage tender for a Contractual Agreement for works indicated as ‘Defuelling the Reactors of the Papa Class Nuclear-Powered Submarine, Hull No. 501’.
FCNRS involved research and design companies from all over this country:
- Open Joint Stock Company N.A. Dollezhal Research and Development Institute for Power Engineering – the technical designer of the Papa Class NPS reactors;
- Open Joint Stock Company I.I. Afrikantov Experimental Design Office for Mechanical Engineering – a leader in nuclear reactor design and operation, a company that has a licensed training centre for education of experts;
- ANO Aspect Conversion – an organiser and co-ordinator of the development of design, safety arrangements and process documentation packages;
- Open Joint Stock Company East-European Leading Research and Design Institute for Power Technology – a company that developed the process documentation (transport and process flowcharts, process procedures, safety case documents, permission certificates for SNF transportation, handling of SNF from NPSs to be dismantled using TK-18, TUK-108/1 shielded casks);
- Open Joint Stock Company Onega Research Design and Process Bureau - the designer of the process equipment, accessories and the defueling process;
- Open Joint Stock Company Ship Shipbuilding and Ship-Repairing Process Centre – the designer of the SNF Onshore Defuelling Facility;
Federal State Unitary Enterprise Krylov State Research Centre – issue of the conclusion with regard to preparedness of the company, the three-compartment unit with nuclear reactor inside, the OSDF and personnel at Zvyozdochka Ship-Repairing Centre for the defueling operation.
The following has been achieved by FCNRS under Grant Implementing Agreement No. 006A dated 26th October 2011:
- The reactor compartment unit placed into the floating dock. This was the first time in history of the Zvyozdochka SNF Onshore Defuelling Facility when defueling operations were carried out with a vessel being located in a ‘hard-standing’ area (see Figure 6);
- Defuelling equipment upgraded. This included cross-departmental trials;
- Documentation for preparations for defuelling and defuelling proper developed;
- Infrastructure prepared;
- SNF unloaded;
- SNF handled and the three-compartment unit prepared for being stored afloat;
- Unloaded SNF dispatched to Mayak;
The reactor unit compartment of the dismantled NPS, hull No. 501, with reactors removed, delivered to the place of final storage – the Saida Bay Long-Term Storage Site in the Murmansk Region.
The entire scope of works was completed on 30th September 2015.
The Interstate Target Programme ‘Remediation of Territories of States Affected by Uranium Mining and Milling Facilities’ (‘the Programme’) was developed to address issues associated with radioecological consequences of uranium tailings storage facility operation in the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, the Russian federation and the Republic of Tajikistan. Programme implementation commenced on 1st January 2013.
Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corroboration was appointed as the customer and co-ordinator for the Programme, and the national state customers comprise the Ministry of Energy in the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Emergency Situations in the Kyrgyz Republic, the Federal Medical and Biological Agency (Russian Federation) and the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies in the Republic of Tajikistan.
Following the tendering process the Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (JSC FCNRS) being a Rosatom’s company, has become the prime contractor for the Programme Phase 1.
The Programme includes the project for remediation of the tailings deposits I-II, III, IV and waste piles of the low-grade ore mill on the Taboshar industrial site in the Republic of Tajikistan.
In compliance with the Programme JSC FCNRS completed the comprehensive engineering survey of the Taboshar industrial site, specified the geology and hydrology of the site, completed topographic and geodetic mapping. Environmental research included emanation and gamma surveys, soil and vegetation sampling. At the research stage, the impact of the Programme facilities on the public health was assessed and a social hygienic monitoring programme was developed jointly with FMBA and the Sanitary and Epidemiological Inspectorate of the Republic of Tajikistan.
A public hearing took place in Istiklol, Republic of Tajikistan, on 2nd November 2016. The result of discussions was public acceptance and signing of the record.
On 30th November 2016 FCNRS, the management company of the Back End Business Group, submitted the design and estimate documentation for the remediation of the Taboshar Site facilities for state expert review by the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan.
Project implementation is currently in progress.
The Federal Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety has been commissioned by Rosatom to develop a new shipping cask (TUK) for VVER-440.
First of all, shielding properties that ensure safety and security during SNF transportation had to be enhanced, and the cask had to be upgraded. Besides, due to demand for SNF transport in Eastern Europe it was necessary to design a new TUK cask that could be used on international railroads where the track gauge is less than in Russia and rail car dimensions are, therefore, different from Russian ones.
In parallel with the development o the TUK cask body design of baskets that could hold more SFAS was in progress. This would enable reducing transport costs.
Unlike its predecessor TUK-6 intended for transport of the Generation I SFAs and provided with liquid neutron shielding and a capacity of not more than 30 SFAs, TUK-140 can be used for transfers of up to 42 SFAs of Generations I, II and III.
Comparison of the major specifications of our TUK cask for VVER-440 with the current TUK fleet is given below.
Type of TUK for 440
Total heat generation
3,6 +4,4 %
Up to 4,87%
Up to 57 GW*day/tU
Up to 67,9 GW*day/tU
A cask transporter has been designed and manufactured by FCNRS’ request alongside with the basket and the cask.
At the end of 2016 two TUK-140 casks provided with new baskets successfully underwent factory acceptance tests that demonstrated their efficiency and uniqueness.
Currently, the FCNRS’ experts have been entrusted with a task to ensure ‘cold’ technological tests at FSUE PA Mayak and the Kola NPP in 2017 in order to introduce the TUK-140 cask into transport and process flowcharts at VVER-440 NPPs and FSUE Mayak.
Following initiative by Rosatom State Corporation, FSUE FCNRS jointly with JSC VNIPIPprotekhnologii have developed the Interstate Target Programme ‘Remediation of Territories of EurAsEC States Affected by Uranium Mining and Milling Facilities’ (‘the EurAsEC ITP’). The following top-priority sites for remediation activities have been selected: two in Kyrgyzstan (Min-Kush and Kadji-Sai settlements) and one in Tajikistan (the town of Taboshar).
The EurAsEC ITP was approved by the Governments of the EurAsEC Member States (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus) and endorsed at the summit of the Eurasian Economic Community Interstate Council held on 5th April 2012.
EurAsEC ITP implementation commenced in 2013. The activities have been split into two phases:
- research and design activities, state expert review of the deign documentation; and
- construction and installation works and handover of the remediated facilities under the economic management of the Republics.
Rosatom State Corporation held an open tender for Phase One that resulted in contract award to FSUE FCNRS.
At present, Phase One has been successfully completed.