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Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power Plant Profiles Introduction
On this page:
- Program Elements
- Reactor Types
The U.S. Department of Energy manages a comprehensive effort, in cooperation with partners in other countries, to reduce risks at Soviet-designed nuclear power plants. This program is conducted in cooperation with Armenia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine (the host countries) in their efforts to make plant operations safer and build their own infrastructure to sustain safety improvements. These nuclear safety activities are promoting a lasting safety culture in the host countries that is consistent with international practices.
DOE's cooperative program originated from U.S. commitments made in 1992 at the G-7 economic group conference, where world leaders agreed to collaborate with the host countries to reduce the risks at Soviet-designed reactors. This effort now includes safety-related activities at 21 nuclear power stations in nine countries.
Safety improvements at Soviet-designed nuclear power plants are needed to ensure the protection of the public, economic health, and environment of many countries, because, as evidenced by the 1986 Chornobyl accident, a nuclear disaster can extend well beyond national borders. Safety improvements are also important in helping guard against a nuclear accident that could destabilize the emerging democracies of the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe.
The following objectives were established for the support of host country efforts to improve safety at Soviet-designed nuclear power plants:
Projects to meet these objectives are organized under the following technical areas, also known as program elements:
Management and operational safety projects increase day-to-day operational safety by establishing safe operating procedures, training operators, and transferring safety maintenance technologies and training.
Engineering and technology projects reduce risks by upgrading safety system equipment of Soviet-designed nuclear power plants. Projects in this category are focused on improving fire safety, nuclear materials confinement, and reactor safety systems.
In-depth safety assessment projects improve the abilities of designers, operators, and regulators to assess the safety of their plants through the use of internationally accepted computer codes, standards, and methods.
Fuel cycle safety projects improve the handling and storing of reactor fuel.
The 21 nuclear power plants participating in DOE's cooperative program include a total of 65 reactors. Fifty-nine of these reactors were built to two basic designs, the RBMK (boiling water, graphite-moderated, pressure-tube reactors) and the VVER (pressurized, light-water-cooled and -moderated reactors).
The RBMK design contains deficiencies that include a susceptibility to power instabilities and a lack of a modern containment system to prevent release of radionuclides to the environment. Inadequacies also exist in the emergency core-cooling systems, fire protection systems, and electronic control-and-protection systems.
There are three principal models of the VVER design. The earliest, VVER-440/230, has no containment system and virtually no emergency core-cooling system. Inadequacies also exist in the back-up safety systems, fire-protection systems, and electronic control-and-protection systems.
The VVER-440/213 design is an enhanced version of the 230 model. It has an emergency cooling system and a "bubbler condenser tower" that provides a measure of containment. Fire protection and electronic control-and-protection systems are inadequate.
The VVER-1000, the largest and newest model, meets most modern safety standards. It has an emergency core-cooling system and a containment building. However, its fire protection and electronic control-and-protection systems have shortcomings.
Fourteen RBMK reactors are in operation in Lithuania, Russia, and Ukraine. Forty-five VVER reactors operate in Armenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. Russia also has four small (12-MW electrical) light-water-cooled, graphite-moderated reactors and a 600-MW fast breeder reactor. Kazakhstan has one 350-MW fast breeder reactor.
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The content was last modified on 11/19/98 .
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