19 January 2021, Tuesday, 11:34
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Lithuanian Nuclear Regulator: Minsk Is Silent About the State of the Reactor of the First Unit of BelNPP

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Lithuanian Nuclear Regulator: Minsk Is Silent About the State of the Reactor of the First Unit of BelNPP
PHOTO: SVABODA.ORG

The Astravets NPP continues to run a fever.

The State Nuclear Safety Inspectorate of Lithuania (VATESI) did not receive an answer from the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus to the question of the state of the backup cooling system of the reactor of the first power unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, the possible malfunctions of which were reported by the media at the end of November, writes naviny.by.

The VATESI website reports that on December 1, the inspection asked the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus, which includes the nuclear regulator, the Department for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (Gosatomnadzor), for detailed information on possible malfunctions of the backup cooling system of the reactor of the first unit, the current state of this system, and the impact of possible failures for the safety of the first power unit of the BelNPP during commissioning.

"On December 2, the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus answered VATESI that during the loading of power unit No. 1 of the BelNPP (the stage of physical start-up), there were no events that could be classified as extraordinary or abnormal," the Lithuanian nuclear regulator said. "The question regarding the state of the reactor cooling system was not answered; therefore, shortly we plan to contact the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus again and urge to promptly provide information to both the public and other interested parties about all unusual events, including those that may cause public concern, and about the possible impact of these events on the safety of BelNPP."

On December 1, the website of the public association Ecodom published a statement of the Belarusian Anti-Nuclear Campaign (BAYAK) about a possible incident that could lead to a malfunction of the backup cooling system of the first power unit of the Belarusian NPP.

As follows from the statement, on November 28, the campaign received a message that "at the end of the hydrotesting at the nuclear power plant, a major emergency occurred: a tanker of the emergency cooling system of the first reactor was damaged, most likely an implosion of the tank occurred." According to an unnamed source, the tank "needs to be replaced," but they are "trying to fix it" so as not to acknowledge the fact of the accident.

The statement noted that during September-October, the BAYAK received information from various sources "indirectly confirming the fact of the accident just at the time when the physical launch and <...> hydrotesting took place, when, according to witnesses of the incident, this emergency happened." On October 13, representatives of the BAYAK received a response to their request from the Department for Nuclear and Radiation Safety of the Ministry of Emergencies, "which states that there are no situations at the BelNPP site during the B-1 start-up substage that qualify as emergency or emergency."

BAYAK demanded to immediately stop work at the BelNPP, stop the first unit's reactor plant, and conduct an investigation.

Gosatomnadzor consultant Oleg Sobolev confirmed to BelaPAN the fact that BAYAK representatives had applied for information about whether there was any incident at the stage of the physical start-up of the first unit of the nuclear power plant during tests in a subcritical state and also told about the content of the department's response.

According to him, the administration of the BelNPP is obliged to report to Gosatomnadzor about all situations occurring at the plant, but no messages have been received from the operating organization. "Plus, there is our supervision, which is carried out constantly; we have inspectors there. We do not need to once again clarify the BelNPP; we already know the situation. <...> We put these two points together and answered them that there were no such situations that are classified as emergency or emergency," Sobolev stressed.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built near Astravets (Hrodna region), not far from the border with Lithuania, at the expense of a Russian loan under the Russian VVER-1200 project. The general designer and general contractor for the station's construction is the ASE company, which is part of the Rosatom state corporation.

Note that the Astravets NPP continues to run a fever. Today it became known that the power unit at the BelNPP was turned off, and the reactor was shut down.