UK contributions to the decommissioning of the BN-350 reactor in Kazakhstan: 2002 – 2011
Department of Energy and Climate Change
2 Nuvia Limited (United Kingdom)
Since 2002, the UK’s Global Threat Reduction Programme managed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has provided assistance to the Republic of Kazakhstan with the decommissioning of the BN-350 sodium cooled fast reactor. Assistance has focused on non-proliferation, safety and security projects to ensure the permanent and irreversible shutdown of the reactor and the reduction of security, safety and environmental hazards, particularly those associated with the large inventory of liquid metal coolants (sodium and sodium-potassium alloy) and the presence of spent nuclear fuel (SNF). UK assistance efforts have been co-ordinated with those of the USA and have made use of the UK’s experience in decommissioning its own fast reactor plants at Dounreay.
The paper describes work undertaken with UK technical and funding assistance support in the following areas:
• Provision of training and technical support in project management and technical topics, including assistance with completion of the BN-350 Decommissioning Plan.
• Liquid metal coolant treatment projects, including immobilization of liquid products from the Sodium Processing Facility (SPF) and processing of residual sodium remaining within the drained coolant circuits.
• Immobilization of highly active caesium traps, arising from sodium clean-up both during reactor operations and post-shutdown.
• Operations to transfer the entire inventory of spent nuclear fuel from the reactor storage pond into dual-use storage and transport casks and then consign these casks to long-term secure storage remote from the reactor site. This activity was part of the major USKazakhstan SNF Storage Project.
• Surveys of spent fuel route facilities to establish the absence of any significant amount of nuclear material.
Key achievements in 2010 were the successful completion of residual sodium processing and completion of the SNF Storage Project. Through 2011, it is intended that the surveys of the fuel storage pond and immobilization of caesium traps will be completed, bringing the current UK assistance activities to an end before March 2012.
© SFEN 2012