Leningrad NPP

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Sosnovy Bor 2

Leningrad NPP-2 is currently being built next to the action of the Leningrad nuclear power plant on the shores of the Gulf of Finland near St. Petersburg, in Sosnovy Bor (about 80 km from St Petersburg). This town with a population of 60 000 people is officially considered to be located in the border zone (to enter there, one needs to apply for a special permit). According to the official General City Plan, St. Peterburg and its 5 million residents fall within the path of any prospective catastrophe at the Leningrad NPP because of the dominant wind directions.

Currently the first and second units are under construction, and, as it is common for such projects, the planned launch date of the power plant already shifted, while prices shifted and rised as well.

In particular, in 2007 while laying the foundation for the blocks, it was announced that the first blocks would come into operation in 2013 and 2014. Now 2014 and 2016 are mentioned.

Rosatom announced plans that Leningrad NPP would comprise six VVER (water-water) reactors. Public hearings for 1 and 2 reactor blocks were held in 2007, for 3 and 4 reactor blocks – in 2009. In 2007 not all the Sosnovy Bor inhabitants who wanted to participate were let in the hall of the hearings because of lack of space. Ecoperestroika, Ecodefense! and other groups publicly criticised the project [1].

For all the projects (1 and 2, 3 and 4th reactor blocks), environmentalists were not allowed to conduct an independent environmental impact study of the LNPP 2 project.

In December 2010 Prosecutors' office issued a motion which halted building of Leningrad NPP-2 for 40 days for a great number of violations during construction works (in January 2011 this motion was sustained by a court decision).

There is a local initiative in Sosnovy Bor (comprising antinuclear and pronuclear participants, i.e. actors from Bellona and Green World groups), which criticises not the project per se, but 'wet' cooling towers planned for the Leningrad NPP-2, and insists on 'dry' ones. The group gathered 6000 signatures against wet cooling towers.   The existing Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant situated nearby the building place of the new Leningrad NPP-2 consists of four graphite-moderated reactors of the RBMK-1000 type (Chernobyl-type).

A number of violations in the plant operation were documented in 1970ies – 1990ies by a whistleblower Sergei Kharitonov[2].

In 1975 there was an accident at Leningrad NPP, which led to a massive emission. The accident was mentioned at the trial of Chernobyl accident as its precursor, which should have been better analysed to prevent Chernobyl explosion. Significant part of documents relative to the 1975 accident remain classified.

The reactors were put in operation between 1974 and 1981. The oldest three reactors already have received prolongation of their engineered life span of 30 years, – according to environmentalists [3] this was done illegally, without a proper state environmental expertice, required by the Russian legislation.
Anyway these reactors would have to taken off from service after 2018. There are as yet no plans that have been worked out for the decommissioning of the original Leningrad NPP (the main conception announced by Rosenergoatom states that the plant territory would be closed for use at least for a hundred years).

Problems of safely storing nuclear waste have not been solved, in the existing storages there is a questionnable practice of storing more spent fuel assemblies than it was designed to store. The same problem of almost no capacity left is persisting with Radon, situated in Sosnovy Bor as well, designed for low- and middle-radioactive waste. Ecologists also criticise location at the Leningrad NPP territory of a metal smelting plant Ecomet-S, for metal with radioactively contaminated surface. This plant was open in 2002 without a state environmental expertice, required by the legislation.

About 78 percent of Russian are against the construction of new nuclear power plants according to a ROMIR poll.