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Kola : | Operating History | Scope of DOE Activities | Accomplishments |

Kola Operating History

In September 1992, a break in a condensate water tank resulted in a small, contained water leak.

In November 1992, Unit 1 experienced an unplanned shutdown when a short circuit led to the loss of DC power supply. The unit's backup diesel generators then failed to start. The reactor remained under control throughout the incident, which was classified as Level 2 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).

A tornado in February 1993 damaged transmission lines supporting the Kola plant and led to turbine and reactor shutdowns at all four operating units. The event was classified as Level 3 on the INES: Emergency diesel generators for units 2, 3 and 4 were successfully started up. The diesel generators for Unit 1, however, did not start as planned, and battery power kept the plant's instrumentation in operation. That event was classified as Level 2 on the INES.

In May 1993, pressure dropped in Kola 3's primary circuit after a safety valve was incorrectly opened. The pressure drop activated the unit's emergency safety system. The event was classified as Level 1 on the INES.

In March 1994, two leaks occurred at the plant; coolant leaked from Unit 2's auxiliary primary circuit cleanup system after a pipe rupture, and reactor coolant leaked from a flange in a control rod drive mechanism in Unit 3. Rosenergoatom, the Russian nuclear plant operating organization, initially classified the event at Kola 2 as Level 0 on the INES. But a special team from Russia's nuclear safety inspectorate—Gosatomnadzor—visiting the plant in mid-March to investigate the two events reportedly said the Kola 2 event was more serious, speculating that it might have been a Level 3. The final classification, reported in July, was Level 2. According to Russia's INES national officer, such an event would normally be classified as Level 1, but it was uprated to Level 2 because of safety=culture deficiencies.

In October 1994, Moscow radio reported that Kola was suffering from a shortage of spare parts and nuclear fuel, and as a result only one of the plant's four units was operating.

In September 1995, Kola plant operators cut off power to the nuclear submarine base of the Russian Northern Fleet because the base had not paid its electricity bills. Power was restored to the base after the Russian military sent armed soldiers to the plant. The loss of electricity reportedly left several decommissioned nuclear=powered submarines with no means of powering the reactors' cooling systems. As a result of this and other similar incidents at Russian military bases, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin signed an order in late September prohibiting regional power systems from cutting off electricity to military installations.

According to the Russian press, in early October 1995 the Kola regional electricity company was owed 27 billion rubles by the military. Another report cited the Kola plant's chief engineer as estimating 500 billion rubles was owed by the station's customers for electricity already supplied. The military and state-run factories are the main customers for Kola's electricity.

[source: NEI Sourcebook]

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conducted ASSET safety assessments in 1992 and 1994 of the Kola plant. (ASSET stands for Assessment of Safety Significant Event Teams. ASSET reviews operational safety from the standpoint of events that have occurred.) During the latter visit, the IAEA team noted that Kola staff had made considerable progress in areas that previously drew recommendations for improvement. The team also identified five pending safety issues:

  • potential for radioactive release during fuel-handling because of field operator errors
  • lack of reliable safety systems because of inadequate maintenance procedures and nonproficient personnel
  • degradation of the "control of reactor power safety" function because of control rod insertion delays
  • unreliable fire-fighting systems and reactor safety systems because of electronic component failures.

Kola : | Operating History | Scope of DOE Activities | Accomplishments |


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