Westinghouse Closing Deal To Supply Fuel To Hungary’s Russian Reactor – Benedek Jávor

Posted: March 11, 2015 in Econ 101, Sanctions on Russia Meaningless, Technology and Energy

SOURCE: http://www.portfolio.hu/en/economy/us_westinghouse_could_supply_nuclear_fuel_for_hungarys_new_russian_reactors_mep.29250.html

SEE ALSO:  Russia Approves $2.3B For Finnish Nuclear Power Plant


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U.S. Westinghouse could supply nuclear fuel for Hungary’s new Russian reactors – MEP

March 4, 2015

U.S. firm Westinghouse may be chosen by Hungary to supply the fuel for the two new reactors Russia’s Rosatom will build in the country’s only nuclear power plant in Paks, said Benedek Jávor, a Hungarian environmentalist and member of the European Parliament for Together – Dialogue for Hungary Alliance (Együtt – Párbeszéd Magyarországért Választási Szövetség). This means that after Germany’s Siemens, another western company could participate in the construction, which was awarded to Rosatom without a public procurement tender and which is now investigated by the European Commission.

Jávor said talks with Westinghouse are in an advanced stage on an agreement, under which the U.S. company would supply the fuel for Paks 2. This may be surprising because the company has never before supplied fuel in an EU member state for any Russia (or Soviet)-built nuclear power plant.

Although US-based Westinghouse, which is majority-owned by Japan’s Toshiba, has recently started to deliver nuclear fuel for Ukrainian NPPs built by Rosatom, these, Jávor claims, have caused malfunctioning several times already for the “failed marriage” of the two technologies.

Why U.S. nuclear fuel could be dangerous?

In 2005, six experimental Westinghouse fuel assemblies, adopted for use in USSR-developed reactors, were tried at the South Ukraine plant in one reactor together with Russian fuel rods. By 2008 Ukraine signed a contract with Westinghouse on fuel rod supply. However, the experiment showed that Westinghouse assemblies deformed during exploitation and got stuck in the core. The reason is simple – Russian nuclear fuel rods are hexagonal in section, while Americans produce fuel assemblies of square section,” RT reported last August.

By 2012, after the failed test, exploitation of US nuclear fuel was banned in Ukraine and the fuel rods were returned to the producer “to get fixed” while Russian scientists came to the rescue. The Energoatom Company of Ukraine lost an estimated USD 175 million in this trial.

Westinghouse Electric Company and Energoatom agreed at the end of last year to significantly increase fuel deliveries to Ukrainian nuclear power plants through 2020. The aim of the Kiev regime is to o replace one quarter of the Russian-made fuel rods with an option to “provide more if needed.”

Ukraine has four nuclear power plants with 15 nuclear reactors that generate at least 50% (over 13 megawatt) of all electric power in Ukraine. All nuclear fuel for Ukrainian reactors has been produced in Russia, which also recycles Ukraine’s nuclear waste.

“Westinghouse is a single-source global nuclear fuel provider for pressurized water reactors (PWRs), including Russian-designed VVER reactors, as well as boiling water reactors (BWRs) and advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs). Westinghouse today provides nuclear fuel to 145 plants globally, 65 of which are in Europe, and has 10 nuclear fuel manufacturing locations around the world, including two sites in Europe: Springfields Fuels Limited in Preston, Lancashire, U.K. and Westinghouse Electric Sweden in Vasteras,” the company said in a press release.

Hungarian daily newspaper Népszabadság said nuclear fuel supply is a major factor in the whole Paks 2 project. Experts estimate that 20-25% of total costs could be related to this field, including waste management.

In an open letter written to János Lázár, minister leading the Prime Minster’s Office, Jávor pointed out that the mixed technology could increase not only security risks, but also the costs of the project.

“If Rosatom made the lowest offer, why do we have to buy something from Westinghouse that would be Rosatom’s task under the contract? If Rosatom’s offer is not the cheapest, how come they can build everything else without public procurement?,” Jávor asked.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán struck a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last year to expand the Paks NPP. The EUR 12 billion job was awarded to Russia’s Rosatom without pubic procurement. Russia agreed to provide a EUR 10 bn loan for the project.

During his visit to Budapest on 17 February Putin gave his full backing to the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant, saying this was a very good deal for Hungary. He confirmed that Moscow would finance 80% of the project’s total costs, saying he attached “great importance” to it.

In the Paks 2 project, Rosatom has so far assigned Germany’s Siemens as the supplier of heavy current mechanical appliances.

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Westinghouse fuel passes Ukraine safety tests despite Russian warnings
Mar 5, 2015
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Courtesy of Westinghouse Electric

Westinghouse said the VVER-1000 fuel went through three cycles at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3 and Westinghouse’s fuel assemblies were tested over the past two weeks.

Westinghouse Electric Co. said Thursday its nuclear fuel “performed flawlessly” in tests at a nuclear power plant in Ukraine, clearing the way for it to be loaded despite Russia’s warnings about safety.

Westinghouse said the VVER-1000 fuel went through three cycles at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3 and Westinghouse’s fuel assemblies were tested over the past two weeks.

Cranberry Township-based Westinghouse ran afoul of the Russian government following a deal with Ukraine’s Energotoam energy company for a significant expansion of an existing agreement to supply nuclear fuel. Ukraine is trying to become energy independent and is locked in a battle with Russian-backed separatists on its eastern border.

The Russian Foreign Ministry brought up the specter of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and said using the Westinghouse fuel would “threaten safety.” Russian officials said they’d blame Ukraine and Westinghouse if there were an accident at the Russian-made atomic power plants, which also use Russian fuel.

Westinghouse hit back hard, telling the Pittsburgh Business Times in early January that Russia’s claims were ” ridiculous” and that the fuel was safe. A Westinghouse executive stressed safety in a statement Thursday.

“Following comprehensive inspections of all nuclear fuel at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, it has been concluded by joint Energoatom and Westinghouse experts that the Westinghouse fuel has performed exactly to specification and has not exhibited any flaws in its operation, as expected,” Westinghouse European President Yves Brachet said in a statement. “This inspection is one of several that confirm the safe and efficient use of Westinghouse fuel and its utilization in additional plants in Ukraine and in other countries that utilize Russian-designed nuclear power stations.”

SOURCE: http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/blog/morning-edition/2015/03/westinghouse-fuel-passes-ukraine-safety-tests.html

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