In order to compensate for a loss of electricity power generation due to Chernobyl NPP shutdown, Ukraine has only two alternatives to natural gas and oil import from Russia and Middle East: extensive use of national coal and/or increased use of nuclear power. Ukrainian coal is of low quality and includes a lot of ash, and, thus, is not suitable for massive electricity production as it is very polluting.
Concerning nuclear power, Ukraine made the decision in the early 90’s to continue operation of Chernobyl NPP units 1 and 3, to restart unit Chernobyl NPP unit 2 and to complete several reactors of VVER 1000/320 type.
Operation of insufficiently safe reactors in the CIS was giving rise to major political and industrial concerns. In particular, the EU wanted to see Chernobyl NPP closed down as soon as possible in safe conditions.
The EU and the G7 group were examining at that time the possibility to contribute to the completion of NPPs under construction in Ukraine. In return, Ukraine would undertake to definitely shutdown the 3 operating units at Chernobyl NPP. A political agreement with Ukraine on such a concept was then under consideration.
The project was implemented by means of four separate contracts, three of them with the two main contractors Lahmeyer International GmbH (contracts 22664 and 22635) and SA Belgatom (contract 22636). There was a small contribution from Ewbank Preece (contract 22653). The complete project description is given below.
In close cooperation and coordination with EC officials the two main contractors had to establish a realistic cost estimate for the completion of 3 Ukrainian VVER 1000/320 reactors:
- Rovno NPP Unit 4,
- Khmelnitsky NPP unit 2,
- Zaporozhe NPP Unit 6.
The completion of these reactors should be carried out in accordance with internationally accepted environmental and nuclear safety standards. This implies that the cost estimates have to take into account a standard of safety of NPPs of the same vintage in the EU.
Since the above Ukrainian reactors are partly completed, from 70% to 95% according to EBRD sources, a distinction is to be made between cost estimates for completion, and cost estimates for the necessary upgrading measures.
Moreover, the cost estimates need to be based on a realistic scenario of the use of Ukrainian manpower and that of the necessary Western expertise. Similarly, realistic assumptions need to be made for the inclusion of Ukrainian or Russian equipment and of EU produced equipment.
The main tasks to be carried out by the contractors were as follows:
- to examine the state of completion of the 3 reactors on the basis of:
- relevant information to be made available by the Ukrainian utility and the State Committee for Atomic Energy;
- visits to the Rovno and Khmelnitsky NPP sites and, if necessary, to the Zaporozhe NPP site;
- to furnish a description of the state of completion of these reactors and their present safety status;
- to establish realistic cost and timing estimates for the completion of these 3 reactors.
For this purpose, a fact-finding mission had to be performed, and relevant reports had to be issued.
Conditions for work performance and working method
The job share in contracting partners was the following:
- Rovno unit 4: Lahmeyer International;
- Khmelnitsky unit 2: Belgatom;
- Zaporozhe unit 6: joint effort between Lahmeyer International and Belgatom;
- Reporting: joint effort between Lahmeyer International and Belgatom
The fact-finding mission was held in May-June 1994, where the following counterparts were contacted:
- Goskomatom, the State commission for nuclear power, at Kiev,
- Atomenergoproekt Kiev (now KIEP), the general designer of Rovno and Khmelnitsky NPPs, in Kiev,
- Gosatomnadzor or GANU, the Ukrainian regulatory body and licensing authority, in Kiev,
- The operator of Rovno NPP, i.e. the technical and financial staff, further representatives of the main erector and manufacturer of unit 4,
- The operator of Khmelnitsky NPP, i.e. the technical and financial staff, further representatives of the main erector and manufacturer of unit 2.
All information made available by the counterparts was evaluated with respect to:
- technical aspects;
- financial aspects;
- regulatory aspects
Additional written information was provided on request during the meetings by the Ukrainian counterparts.
The physical degree of completion, i.e. the progress of each technical item, was assessed by:
- a visual inspection on site and contractor’s own judgement;
- by discussion with the Ukrainian counterparts, particularly with specialists of the NPPs, related to quantities and performed work.
The fulfilment of safety requirements was assessed concentrating on:
- the present safety level of considered Ukrainian NPPs;
- the planned future safety improvements with regard to the official standards OPB88, SM90, etc;
- a postulated internationally acceptable safety level.
The realistic cost estimates were mainly made on the basis of international market prices.
As Zaporozhe NPP unit 6 is nearly completed (98%), results from Rovno and Khmelnitsky NPPs have been extrapolated without specific review of Zaporozhe 6.
Results of the fact-finding mission on cost aspects
Considerably different costs for completion were made available by Goskomatom (now Energoatom) and AEP. The cost estimates for completion provided by the NPP operators were judged to be the most reliable data by the contractors, and therefore were used as a basis of the assessments. The contractors’ costs given in final report are affected by a certain range of uncertainty and include partly some contingencies.
The financial evaluation assumes that money is made available in June 1994. If not, cost estimates can be endangered by the following facts:
- more equipment has to be replaced because of the end of its service lifetime;
- renewal of warranties;
- conservation measures have to be kept for a longer time;
- the cost of equipment increases continuously;
- the cost for stand-by personnel increases by time;
- seasonal effects have an impact on erection time and cost.
There are discrepancies between cost figures of Rovno-4 and Khmelnitsky-2 because there are site-specific requirements, different degrees of equipment erection and differences in the current equipment degradation status.
Results of the fact-finding mission on safety aspects
Contractors defined 4 levels of safety:
- Safety level A: corresponds to the Ukrainian safety requirements for commissioning in force at that time in 1994;
- Safety level B: according to OPB88, which is a relatively high safety standard, addressing also severe accidents issues;
- Safety level B+: corresponds to a level B plus additional plant specific feasibility studies necessary to define the measures corresponding to level C and possibly the implementation of some upgrading adaptations;
- Safety level C: international acceptable safety standards.
For the commissioning of Rovno-4 and Khmelnitsky-2 the contractors recommended to adopt level B+. However, a further backfitting programme should be adopted after commissioning in order to reach level C.
A process, covered by law, of periodical safety re-assessment of the plant should be imposed.
Results of the fact-finding mission on technical capacity of Ukrainian nuclear sector
Human resources with sufficient skills are available in Ukraine, who should be able to complete the erection and commissioning of the 3 units. It was recommended that a Western type of quality assurance program and a strong Western type management be implemented. Further, a Western on-site support for supervision should be given to the NPP operators.
A legal framework for independent GANU and related TSO (Technical Support Organisations) was recommended.
Synthesis of cost estimates
The short notice, the short duration of the mission and the extremely tight schedule led to some difficulties in the project management. Moreover, the contractors warned that the findings of the project final report cannot be interpreted as a safety assessment (nor a design review) for which an effort of totally different nature and importance is necessary.