The first of 163 nuclear fuel assemblies has been loaded into the VVER-1200 reactor of power unit 2 of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) 2, Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) announced on Sunday.
Fuel loading marks the beginning of the physical start-up of a nuclear power plant, Rosatom explained.
After fuel is loaded, the reactor will be brought to the minimum controllable power level - up to 1%, to ensure the safety of all relevant processes. The physical launch will be followed by the power start-up, trial operation and integrated testing.
Commissioning of the power unit is scheduled for 2021 when it will replace the RBMK-1000 reactor-equipped power unit 2, which will shut down at the end of this year after 45 years of service.
"Beginning physical start-up procedures means that all the works associated with building the unit are complete. Today this important equipment of the unit receives the status of a 'nuclear energy installation', and nuclear specialists take on the responsibility for its safe operations for many years ahead," said Andrei Petrov, director-general of Rosenergoatom, the plant's operator company.
The VVER-1200 is the flagship of Rosatom's Generation III+ PWR-type reactor and the world's only Generation III+ design in serial construction.
Unit 2 of the Leningrad-2 NPP will be the fourth in the series following units 1 and 2 of the Novovoronezh-2 NPP, launched in 2016 and 2019, respectively, and unit 1 of the Leningrad-2 NPP, launched in 2017.
Turkey, Finland, Hungary, China, Bangladesh and Belarus are other countries where nuclear power unit projects are at various stages of implementation.
By Firdevs Yuksel