Lifetime extension of Kola NPP 4th reactor: an unnecessary risk

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Since October 11th all of four reactors of Kola Nuclear Power Plant are running over the allotted lifetime. Friday, October 10th the lifetime of the 4th reactor was finished. Kola Environmental Center considers that lifetime prolongation of nuclear reactors over the project period carried additional risks without real needs.

The press center of Kola NPP announced to obtain a license to operate unit 4 for the next 25 years - until December 7, 2039. It is almost the same period again it was scheduled for by NPP designers 30 years ago.

"It is an unprecedented case in the history of the nuclear industry in the Russian Federation," director of Kola NPP Vasily Omelchuk says.

"Actually, this case is unprecedented," coordinator of Kola Environmental Center project "Decommission" Vitaly Servetnik comments the extension. "The reactor has undergone a dubious procedure of increasing the capacity at the end of the project lifetime, and is extended for a period almost equal to the allotted one by designers, in the absence of electricity consumers. This is the risk without necessity."

Kola Environmental Center's position remains unchanged: we believe that lifetime extension of nuclear reactors over the designed period of exploitation is dangerous and economically unjustified. We consider the extension without a State Environmental Expertise (SEE) and an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), including public hearings, is illegal. Also a socio-economic justification for the lifetime extension of the units is necessary.

According to Russian legislation, a decommissioning plan for each nuclear reactor should be prepared in 5 years before it's planed to be shut down. However, none of the Kola NPP reactors continuing to work over the project period have this plan. The license for the continued operation of the KNPP fourth unit for 25 years, issued a few days before the end of the projected lifetime, cannot be counted as the result of an independent assessment of the state of the atomic object.

Functioning over the project period at increased power is a doubly greater concern, especially amid the IAEA recommendations about using the units of Kola NPP at partial power; also considering the lack of energy and financial viability for the Murmansk region. Currently Kola NPP operates at 50% capacity; the network does not allow selling any excess energy outside the region, neighbouring countries refused to buy electricity produced by old reactors.

Kola Environmental Center within the framework of the "Decommission" Network prepared a concept plan for the decommissioning of nuclear power reactors, undergone a project period, which includes the experience of countries that have already started the process of decommissioning. This concept already has been sent to Rosatom for discussion, and now published on the website in the public domain.

Kola Environmental Center emphasizes its readiness to engage for dialogue on the issue of decommissioning old reactors.