Russia prepares to accept spent fuel of Kazakhstan's VVR-K reactor

On September 19, 2016 the town of Ozersk, Russia, which is the home of the Mayak Plant, held public hearings on the planned shipment of spent fuel of VVR-K reactor from Kazakhstan. The hearings, covered in a news story by Bellona, considered the environmental impact assessment of the project.

According to the documents, Russia is planning to transfer the spent fuel in three shipments, which will include 153 fuel assemblies of the VVR-Ts type originally contained uranium enriched to 36% (126 with five fuel elements and 27 with three fuel elements) as well as 123 fuel assemblies of the VVR-KN type, with 19.7% enriched uranium. The total amount of the fuel prepared for transfer is said to be 504 kg. The VVR-KN fuel assembly was developed in Russia specifically for conversion of the VVR-K reactor to LEU. The first test of the fuel began in 2012 and the reactor conversion was completed in 2016.

Based on the data published by the fuel manufacturer, the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant, fresh VVR-Ts fuel assemblies contain 109 g and 83 g of U-235 in 5- and 3-element assemblies respectively. Each fresh VVR-K assembly contains 245 g of U-235. Accordingly, the shipment will include about 43 kg of irradiated 36% HEU and about 153 kg of 19.7% LEU (by the initial uranium-235 content). [UPDATE: According to NNSA, the transfer included 49.3 kg of unirradiated and and 158.3 kg of irradiated HEU]

The fuel will be transported from Almaty to Koltsovo, Ekaterinburg by air and then to the Mayak Plant by a truck. Radioactive waste will be returned to Kazakhstan. Previous shipment of spent VVR-K fuel from Kazakhstan to Mayak was announced in January 2015.