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Zaporizhzhya Operating HistoryZaporizhzhya's station manager has noted that the plant's steam generators have experienced corrosion problems and may have to be replaced in Units 1 and 2, and possibly in Units 3, 4 and 5.
In January 1992, a fire suppression system was accidentally activated in Unit 2; subsequent water damage led to a plant shutdown. The incident was classified as Level 2 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
In May 1993, while Unit 5 was in a maintenance and refueling outage, hydrogen leaked from a line in the turbine generator cooling system and was ignited by a welder's torch. The explosion and subsequent fire caused the death of one maintenance worker and severely burned a second. There was no damage to equipment in the turbine hall. A state investigating commission reportedly concluded that the accident was caused by a flagrant violation of safety regulations.
Also in May, Unit 2 was shut down after a group of control rods malfunctioned during planned maintenance work. A similar malfunction occurred in Unit 5 before it was shut down for planned maintenance earlier in the month.
In June 1993, a radioactive "hot spot" was discovered near Unit 1. The contamination occurred after water seeped from the reactor building. A drain valve in the reactor's primary circuit make-up system apparently failed, and water seeped from the floor of one of the rooms of the reactor building onto the roof of the adjacent motor drive building. From there, heavy rains washed it to the ground. The event was classified as Level 2 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
In January 1994, contaminated primary circuit water entered a compressed air system in Unit 4 because of a valve failure. The contamination affected one room and some piping inside an auxiliary building. The event was classified as Level 2 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
Plant workers reportedly sent a letter to then-President Kravchuk and the Ukrainian Parliament in May 1993, saying that the entire plant might have to be shut down because of a shortage of skilled personnel. The letter asked for salary increases to bring plant workers up to the level of Russian nuclear plant personnel. According to former General Director, Volodymyr Bronnikov, the plant lost 427 highly qualified workers in 1993. Bronnikov also said that the plant was paid for only 40 percent of the electricity it delivered in 1993. In addition, the plant is running out of spent fuel storage capacity. Bronnikov has reportedly said that without additional storage, the plant may be forced to shut down Unit 1 in 1995, and might have to close two more units in 1996.
According to a Ukrainian news agency report in October 1994, Units 2 and 3 at the Zaporizhzhya plant had run out of fuel and did not have the $300-500 million needed to buy more. The report added that the plant also did not have the money needed to carry out maintenance work. In November 1994, plant manager Bronnikov said that Zaporizhzhya would use government credit to launch its 1995 engineering plans.
The Ukrainian Parliament's 1990 moratorium stopped construction on a sixth unit at the site. In October 1993, the Ukrainian parliament voted to lift the moratorium on new plant construction, citing Ukraine's energy shortage as the reason. In February 1994, then-President Kravchuk issued a directive calling for the completion by 1999 of five VVER-1000 s that were under construction, including Zaporizhzhya 6.
According to former General Director Bronnikov, some upgrades could not be incorporated in Unit 6 because of a lack of money and equipment, and now will have to be made after the plant comes on line. Bronnikov reportedly also said that because the plant owes 2.5-billion rubles to Russian scientific and technical institutes, all safety upgrade programs had been halted.
Construction of Unit 6 was not without public and governmental opposition. In June 1994, voters in two districts near the Zaporizhzhya plant rejected a proposal to complete Unit 6. A local district council put the question to voters who had gone to the polls for a Ukrainian national election.
In November 1994, Bronnikov said that although the plant was getting no money from the Ukrainian government for Unit 6, the government had made sufficient credit available to complete work on the unit. In early 1995, the chairman of Derzhkomatom reportedly said that operation of the unit had been delayed because of lack of funding.
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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