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Leningrad Operating HistoryIn March 1992, Unit 3 experienced a fuel channel rupture that was classified as a Level 2 incident on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). A March 24 report by the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy stated that the cause of the incident was a faulty valve. After undergoing maintenance, Unit 3 was shut down until June 1992, when it was brought back up to full power.
In September 1993, the Leningrad plant reportedly had only enough uranium fuel to operate for another three months. The plant had no money to buy fuel because it was owed 26 billion rubles by electricity users. In January 1994, the plant reportedly faced shutdown because of a lack of fuel. In August the plant director reportedly said that the plant's bank account had been closed because the plant was unable to pay its taxes.
The Leningrad plant acquired the status of a separate operating utility in 1992, and reports to the Deputy Minister of Atomic Energy as an independent federal enterprise.
In May 1992, Minatom announced that the two oldest Leningrad units--along with the two oldest Kursk units--would be the first RBMK reactors in Russia to be decommissioned.
The first phase of planned upgrades, which focused on Unit 1, was completed mid-1992. Among key upgrades is a modernized feedwater system, replacement of 1,600 pressure tubes, and restoration of graphite blocks in the core and the installation of a new instrumentation and control system. A second phase of upgrades--first for Unit 2 and then for Unit 3--began in 1992. These involve seismic and fire protection improvements and the installation of a new diagnostic system and instrument and control upgrades. As part of this phase, Unit 2's pressure tubes were replaced.
The third phase of upgrades involves building in additional redundancies for the plant.
An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection in 1993 identified five safety problems that were undermining the plant's safe performance:
Source: Source Book: Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power Plants in Russia, Ukrane, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, and Bulgaria, 4th edition. Nuclear Energy Institute. 1996. (online)
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