Experience in Handling Damaged Spent Nuclear Fuel

L. Szoke (Paks NPP, Hungary) V. Smirnov, S. Komarov, S. Amosov, Е. Zvir (R&D Company “Sosny”, Russia)


The fuel supplied by TVEL Fuel Company for the VVER-440 reactors in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Finland has operated reliably. In average, the quantity of the leaky fuel rods detected in the past 5 years is 7.010-7. In 2002, the reactors in Units 1-3 at the Paks NPP started to operate at lower power, since the coolant flow rate had decreased due to deposits in the fuel assemblies. Since most of the fuel assemblies had not reached the end of their life time, the Paks NPP took a decision to clean them up from the deposits during a reactor shutdown and then to return them to the reactor core.



Заголовок слайда




cleaning tank & damaged fuel
On April 11, 2003, cooling problems during cleaning up a batch of 30 SFAs caused an incident.


Russian Participating Organizations

Signing a contract between TVEL JSC and Paks NPP September 9, 2003


Fuel in the Cleanup Tank
30 SFAs
Upper spacer plate Cooling circuit

Fuel rod fragments

Pile of fuel rod fragments and spilt fuel

Lower spacer plate


Main Handling Equipment
Lifting platform

To perform the destructed fuel removal operations, R&D Company “Sosny” developed a required procedure and equipment and conducted personnel training. The preparatory work took 3 years.

Work platform


Main Handling Equipment

Ventilated canister

SRW vessel

Canister after testing


Russian Specialists at Paks NPP


Upper view of the platform
horizontal saw display

working slot Pb glass window


alarm unit

crane control


Control panel & displays
platform in the pit

control panel



Radiation Protection


Automatic radiation monitoring system


40 mm steel

B Ventilation system

100 mm 2 steel 100-200 mm air gap 0.5- 2.6 m water layer

Water treatment system С






Control System

Automatic online control systems
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Subcriticality; Boron concentration; Radiation dose rate;

Water and air temperature;
Water level (air gap) Aerosol activity (,,); Air flow rate; Water activity.

Automatic alarm system


Fuel Removal Operations
Clear out the upper plate of the tank from SFA and fuel rod fragments. Separate the SFA end parts from fuel columns and load them into SRW vessels

Clear out the fuel rod fragments from the middle of the tank

Cut the upper plate into fragments. Remove the SFA fragments from under the plate

Remove the bulk SNF and SFA fragments from the lower plate

Drill through and remove the central part of the lower plate

Remove the bulk SNF and SFA fragments from the bottom of the tank


Results of Pefromed Work
The work was completed in full scale as scheduled and at a high technological level. As a result, more than 5 tons of SNF were removed from the tank. In late December, 2006, Unit 2 of the Paks NPP was brought to the minimum controllable power, and on January 1, 2007 it was put to the rated power. Now, the damaged SNF of the thirty destructed fuel assemblies collected in the ventilated canisters is temporarily stored in the cooling pool at the Paks NPP. Taking into account the condition of the fuel, the optimal solution would be to reprocess it in Russia.
Value Parameter External radiation dose rate per shift, (Sv/shift) Gamma and neutron radiation dose rate on the working frame (Sv/h) Effective individual dose over the entire campaign (mSv) Accident 1000 400 Limit 160 40 0.1 - 0.8, max 1.8 Actual 20 - 40 120 max 5-8 30 max


Further SNF Handling
Simulations of storage conditions for the damaged SNF in a tight canister the quantity of residual moisture in the canister that would guarantee safe handling operations was determined; only the VVER-440 spent fuel was used; the rate of a release of hydrogen, oxygen and gaseous fission products into the canister vs. the amount of the residual water and the ambient temperature was determined; thermal vacuum drying without pre-draining was admitted the optimal solution. The procedure for preparation of the SNF-containing canisters includes: drying; filling up with an inert gas ; air-tightening.



The technology for removal of the damaged spent fuel from the pool requires development of unique equipment for each specific case. The most important issue is safe operations. Fire and explosion safety of the damaged spent fuel in storage and transport is one of the crucial safety-related issues. Experimental data are required for correct assessments of fire and explosion safety in handling the damaged spent fuel.

This experience can be used in elimination of consequences of the accident at the Fukushima NPP.


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