Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station

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Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station

The Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station (NPS) (Russian: Белоярская атомная электростанция им. И. В. Курчатова), was the second of the then Soviet Union's nuclear plants. It is situated by Zarechny in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia. Zarechny township was created to service the station, which is named after the Beloyarsky District. The closest city is Yekaterinburg.

Beloyarsk NPS was the first to put graphite-moderated reactors into operation to produce electrical power. The single reactor now in operation is a BN-600 fast breeder reactor, generating 600 MWe. It is the largest fast neutron power reactor in service in the world. Three turbines are connected to the reactor. The BN-600 reactor core is 1.03 metres (41 in) tall and has a diameter of 2.05 metres (81 in). It has 369 fuel assemblies, each consisting of 127 fuel rods with an enrichment of 17-26% U235. In comparison, typical enrichment in other Russian reactors is in the range of 3-4% U235. BN-600 reactors use liquid sodium as a coolant. As with most Russian nuclear power plants the station lacks a containment building.

Two earlier reactors were constructed at Beloyarsk: an AMB-100 reactor (operational 1964-1983) and an AMB-200 reactor (operational 1967-1989).

Construction started on a larger BN-800 type fast breeder reactor in 1987. Protests halted progress in 1988, but work resumed in 1992 following an order by President Boris Yeltsin. Financial difficulties have resulted in slow progress. Construction costs have been estimated at 1 trillion rubles and the new reactor can only be finished in 2012–2015 given current scarce financing. The BN-600 was originally planned to be decommissioned in 2010 but its lifetime is likely to be extended to cover the gap; it has been operating for 28 years so far.


The two gravest incidents at Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant struck the two reactors which are now shut down. In 1977 half of the fuel rods melted down in the ABM-200 reactor. Operators were exposed to severe radiation doses and the repair work took more than a year. In December 1978 the same reactor caught fire when parts of the roof fell on one of the turbines' oil tanks. Cables were destroyed by the fire and the reactor went out of control. Eight people who assisted in securing cooling of the reactor core were exposed to increased radiation doses.

In recent years there have been problems with leakage of liquid metal from the BN-600 cooling system. In December 1992 there was a leakage of radioactive contaminated water at the reactor. In October 1993 increased concentrations of radioactivity in the power plant fan system were found. A leakage the following month led to a shutdown. In January and May 1994 there was a fire at the power plant. In July 1995 another leakage of liquid metal from the cooling elements caused a two-week shutdown of the reactor.

There is an increasing concern about radioactive contamination around the power plant. Several hotspots were discovered in the region as the radiation monitoring effort was extended in recent years.

  • Second breeder reactor to be built at Beloyarsk NPP
  • 5th reactor to be built at Beloyarsk NPP

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