Kozloduy Unit 6 incident poses no risk to people and energy system

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The incident at Unit 6 of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant poses no risk to people's health or to the energy system, Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Traicho Traikov told journalists on Tuesday.Traikov ruled out radiation risk or any other risk to people's health at the power plant.

He met with Ivan Yotov, Executive Director of the Electricity System Operator, and Mityu Hristozov, Director of the National Dispatching Centre.

Traikov made a surprise visit during repairs at Unit 6, saying that he wanted to check on the progress of the unit's scheduled annual repairs. Kozloduy's Unit 6 was shut down on September 17.

Traikov said that faults in the cover of the protection equipment were identified during monitoring of the systems for reactor protection management. Traikov said that those parts would take between six and eight months to make. However, the Russian manufacturer pledged that Unit 6 could be restarted within 15 days. It was agreed that the available parts would be sent to Kozloduy.

Russia will supply the 31 faulty parts at a token price, Traikov said. The manufacturer, Rosatom, is aware of the problem.

Traikov will talk with Rosatom's management ahead of the scheduled repairs of Unit 5 in the spring of 2011 to be ready to address a similar problem. It is likely that the problem was caused by a a manufacturer's defect.

According to schedule, the repairs of Unit 6 should be completed within three or four weeks and it should be reconnected to the national grid. Meanwhile, electricity export will be limited, more electricity from the water power stations will be used, and cool standby mode will offset any shortage of electricity.

Regarding export, Traikov said it could be cut by two thirds from the current level of 1,000 plus megawatts. It is almost certain that the planned export to Turkey of about 160 MW in November and December each will not materialize, the Energy Minister said. Electricity export will resume in the beginning of 2011.

Cracks in the upper part of the protective pipes of three of the regulating units were found during the scheduled repairs of the 1,000-megawatt Unit 6, the Kozloduy power plant said, asnwering journalists' questions.

The faulty pipes were replaced and a programme for extensive checks of all protective pipes was drawn up.

The repairs, which started on September 18, involved metallographic monitoring of the protective pipes of the regulating units of the management and protection system of Unit 6.

Ultrasound monitoring was done to the upper part of the protective pipes of all 61 regulating units of the management and protection system.

Since 31 pipes were found to be faulty, it was decided that all 61 would be replaced, and Russian manufacturer Gidropress gave assurances that the new pipes would be delivered by the end of October.

As a result, the repairs will take about two weeks longer than expected.

The radiation background around the nuclear power plant remains unchanged.

The managing board of the Radioactive Waste Fund has voted for 2,715,300 leva to be made available to the company in line with a government decree of October 13. The extra money will go towards implementing a Council of Ministers' decision which designated Kozloduy's Unit 1 and 2 radioactive waste management facilities, and will finance radioactive waste management. This was part of Bulgaria's commitments under its EU Accession Treaty, but it is only now that the conditions for implementing it are there, the Economy, Energy and Tourism Ministry said.

With this extra financing, after the Radioactive Waste State Company is licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRA), real steps can be taken to start decommissioning the Kozloduy units already shut down.

The Radioactive Waste State Company can be licensed by NRA to manage Units 1 and 2 as radioactive waste facilities, the Ministry said.

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