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Russian Federation Flag The Russian Federation

On this page:
- Country Profile and Reactor List
- Operating Nuclear Power Plants
- Plans for New Nuclear Plants
- Fuel Supply and Waste Disposal
- Key Nuclear Organizations
Additional Russia sections
on this website:

- Data table of reactors
- Map of Russia's reactors
- Photos of Russia
Country Profile and Reactor List

Size: 6,592,850 square miles (nearly twice the size of the United States)
Population: 147.3 million (July 1997)
Gross Domestic Product: $767 billion (1996 est.)
Gross Domestic Product per Capita: $5,200 (1996 est.)

Electricity Production: 848 billion kWh (1996 est.)
Electricity Consumption per Capita: 5,700 kWh (1996 est.)
Total Installed Generating Capacity (1996): 211,000 MW
    Thermal-Fired Plants: 143,700 MW (67%)
    Nuclear Plants: 23,000 MW (11%)
    Hydroelectric Plants: 44,300 MW (21%)
Nuclear Power Plants:
    Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant
    Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant
    Bilibino Nuclear Power Plant
    Kalinin Nuclear Power Plant
    Kola Nuclear Power Plant
    Kursk Nuclear Power Plant
    Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant
    Novovoronezh Nuclear Power Plant
    Smolensk Nuclear Power Plant

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Operating Nuclear Power Plants

Russia has 29 nuclear power reactor units in operation at nine sites, producing a total of approximately 21,000 MW per year. In 1997, the nuclear power plants in Russia produced 14% of the electricity; in the far western parts of Russia, the share was 24.9%. The Leningrad (Sosnovyy Bor), Kola, and Smolensk nuclear plants supply half of northwest Russia's electricity requirements. In addition to nuclear power, Russia generates about 70% of its electricity at thermal power stations (coal, gas, and oil) and about 18% at hydroelectric stations.

About 97 percent of Russia's nuclear generating capacity comes from reactors built to the RBMK and VVER designs. DOE's cooperative safety program works closely with several Russian organizations.

Operational Events

In 1995, there were 95 operational events at Russian nuclear power plants, down from 128 in 1994. This number included 57 events at VVER units and 38 events at RBMK and other units. Unplanned disconnections from the grid were greater at VVER units than at other units.

Safety Concerns

Control Rod Failures -- In 1992 and 1993, there were multiple cases of control rod failures at VVER-1000 reactors. The problem was caused by exceeding the design control rod drop time or by control rod jamming. Specifically, the cause of the failures was found to be friction between absorber rods and fuel assembly guiding tubes that resulted from the guiding tubes' bending. The guiding tubes were bending because of increased mechanical loads on the fuel assembly support structures, resulting from the overtightness of the fuel assembly top heads. Recent corrective actions include adjusting the upper internals of all Russian VVER-1000 units, reducing the axial loads on the fuel assembly support structures. In 1995, no control rod failures were observed. Heavy absorber rods were developed and the top head modified by the manufacturer.

Lack of Safety Culture -- The elements of a safety culture are being introduced into Russian nuclear power plants. The effort uses the existing administration organizations to ensure that there is less complacency about safety and that plant staff take personal responsibility for safe operations.

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Plans for New Nuclear Plants

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation has grappled with the challenge of maintaining older model plants and continuing its plans for building newer models. In May 1994, the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) issued a draft stategy for nuclear energy through the year 2010. The strategy identified several new-generation reactors being designed in Russia:

  • the NP-1000 (a 1000-megawatt VVER with enhanced safety features)
  • the NP-1100 (an 1100-megawatt VVER with enhanced safety features)
  • the NP-500 (a 640-megawatt VVER with enhanced safety features)
  • the VPBER-600 (a 640-megawatt VVER with passive safety features)
  • the BN-800 (an 800-megawatt fast breeder reactor)
  • the MKER-800 (an 800-megawatt channel-type reactor with enhanced safety features).
Sosnovvy Bor (Leningrad) has been chosen as the site for the first NP-500, Novovoronezh for the first NP-1000 or NP-1100, and the Primorskaya and Kostroma sites for the first VPBERs. The NP-500 is also planned for construction at the Kola site; plans call for the first of three units to come online in 2003, when the first two units of the existing plant, which are VVER-440/V230 s, will be decommissioned.

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Fuel Supply and Waste Disposal

To alleviate problems in storing radwaste and spent reactor fuel, both domestic and international initiatives are ongoing. In 1995, a liquid radwaste bituming facility was commissioned at Balakovo. Liquid waste evaporation facilities were put in operation at Balakovo and Novovoronezh. There has been some international involvement in radwaste management at Russian nuclear power plants: A Belgian company (Tractebel) has participated in upgrading the bitumizing facility at the Kalinin plant. Firms from the European Union and Russia are cooperating in a project for the Kalinin and Smolensk plants to separate plant wastes: extracting solid radwastes from repositories, sorting them out, and transporting them to the radwaste reprocessing facilities or packing them in transportation casks. Companies from the European Union also are involved in building a furnace at the Novovoronezh plant and a charging unit at the Kola plant, both projects for waste incineration facilities.

The Smolensk plant has begun using a new spent fuel storage facility. A method of spent fuel compact storage has also been introduced at the Kola plant.

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Key Nuclear Organizations

  • Ministry of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation (Minatom) - agency responsible for fuel cycle and nuclear energy production activities, nuclear scientific and research centers, and nuclear weapons complex. Also responsible for operation of the Leningrad nuclear power plant.>

  • Rosenergoatom - a business concern of Minatom responsible for operating all of Russia's nuclear power plants, except the Leningrad (Sosnovyy Bor) plant. (The Leningrad plant has the status of a separate operating utility.) These responsibilities include plant maintenance and repair, technical support, operations planning, and emergency planning. In addition, Rosenergoatom is responsible for training operators and maintenance personnel, using VVER-440 and VVER-1000 simulators at Novovoronezh and an RBMK simulator at Smolensk.

    Rosenergoatom maintains a centralized system in Moscow that collects, processes, and disseminates information on operational events. It also reports any event to the International Atomic Energy Agency for a rating on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The Russian nuclear plants use the information from Rosenergoatom in making equipment modifications as well as in personnel training.

  • Russian Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Operations (VNIIAES) - organization that assists in nuclear power plant startup, operations, and training; manufactures full-scope and analytical simulators.

  • Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering (RDIPE) - also known as NIKIET or ENTEK; main designer of RBMK reactors.

  • Atomenergoproekt - VVER and RBMK nuclear facility architect/engineer responsible for the balance of plant design (non-nuclear portion of plant).

  • Gosatomnadzor (GAN) - the State Committee for Nuclear and Radiation Safety-- is responsible for regulating the safety of Russia's civilian nuclear reactors and fuel cycle enterprises. (The Ministry of Defense is responsible for all military nuclear facilities.) GAN licenses all civilian facilities that use radioactive materials, develops rules and standards governing the safe use of these materials, and inspects all facilities that use these materials, including nuclear power plants. At present, Russia's nuclear plants operate on the basis of temporary permits, but the permits do include requirements on improvement programs and independent assessments. The agency plans to develop a full-scope licensing regime based on that used in the United States. GAN is also charged with approving the design and construction of all nuclear plants.

    The agency sets the skill requirements of all personnel responsible for the safe operation of the nuclear plants and ensures that those requirements are met. GAN is responsible for analyzing all nuclear plant incidents and recommending any necessary corrective measures. It also provides information on events that must be reported outside the plant. GAN has the authority to shut down or withdraw the operating license of any facility that violates its nuclear safety requirements.

    In additions to its headquarters in Moscow, GAN has seven regional branches: St. Petersburg, Balakovo, Yekaterinburg, Khabarovsk, Moscow, Novovoronezh, and Novosibirsk. There is at least one GAN inspector at almost all of Russia's nuclear plants.

  • Russian Academy of Sciences - Nuclear Safety Institute (IBRAE, Moscow) - independent organization specializing in the development of nuclear safety computer analysis methods.

  • Russian Scientific Center - Kurchatov Institute - organization responsible for designing power reactors, research reactors, fuel, fuel cycle facilities, space nuclear reactors; conducts economic and policy studies, metallurgical research, fusion research.

  • Gidropress - Experimental Design Institute - organization responsible for VVER reactor design, steam generator design and manufacturing, and thermal-hydraulic code development and testing.


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