The construction of Chernobyl NPP was launched in 1970 on a site located about 90 km to the north of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. The last approved version of the project included 4 nuclear power units with the capacity of 1000 MW each. In 1983, the fourth unit was put into service, which increased the gross capacity of the plant up to 4000 MW.
Chernobyl NPP is perhaps the most known nuclear power plant in the world. Sadly, the reason for this condition of being well known is a negative one – an occurrence considered to be one of the most devastating accidents through the history of the global nuclear energy industry that happened on April 26, 1986, in power unit 4. The tragedy has impacted thousands of people, and the situation at hand required quick steps to minimize the aftermath of the accident.
An international group of experts designed a unique project – the sarcophagus called Shelter. Given its engineering solutions, the object is unrivaled throughout the world. Working in dangerous conditions, the group of engineers and constructors managed to erect a structure that provided protection of the environment, operating staff and people from the radioactive impact of the damaged unit 4.
KIEP was one of the first organizations that started working on the management of the accident. Since 1987, the institute has been the general designer of Chernobyl NPP. One of the main tasks KIEP had to tackle was working out a project that would safely take the nuclear power plant out of service. In the shortest time possible, the institute provided project documentation on shutting down the nuclear reactors.
Working on several Chernobyl subprojects at a time, from 1992 till 1998 KIEP designed the following:
- A heating plant for the NPP’s needs
- Systems for strain-gauge measurement of the circulation circuit in the 3rd unit
- A low-level waste water filtering system to remove oil, used in the sarcophagus
- A physical access system to Shelter, including safety devices.
KIEP has designed some other facilities as well needed for the NPP’s proper functioning.
The decommission project for Chernobyl NPP’s units inevitably raised the problem of the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) that was temporarily left in the units. So, as a part of the whole project, KIEP worked out a plan for modification and technical re-equipment of the existing interim storage facility, ISF-1, that used the wet method of storage, to improve its safety and increase its storage capacity.
Some time later, working with the US company Holtec International, KIEP also redesigned ISF-2, the initial project of which was developed by the French company Framatome with the dry method of storage applied. The institute’s ultimate design was evaluated by international expert groups and given a high rating. Currently, Chernobyl NPP and KIEP have been carrying out preparation works to introduce ISF-2 into service.
The decommission of Chernobyl NPP has required a complex approach, which involves the necessity for nuclear waste treatment facilities. In cooperation with the Western partners, KIEP has designed treatment and storage facilities for liquid and solid radioactive waste.
As of today, all the units of Chernobyl NPP have been shut down. But the work on the NPP decommission has been still going on. The main attention is currently concentrated on a unique object, the New Safe Confinement (NSC). It’s an arcuated protective complex, most of which has already been installed over the damaged 4th unit on top of the existing sarcophagus, Shelter.
To implement the NSC project, in 2008 was established a consortium named NOVARKA, which consists of two renowned French companies - Vinci Construction and Bouygues Travaux Publics.