30 Nov 2023

Ukraine Diversified Fuel for VVER-440 Units

VVER-440 title pic
Westinghouse fuel assembly (© Westinghouse)

This autumn marked a significant event in the field of nuclear energy, not only for Ukraine but also globally. Ukraine was the first country to load Westinghouse nuclear fuel into a VVER-440 reactor at one of its NPPs. Until now, Ukrainian reactors of this type used only russian fuel. Thus, Ukraine has become the first nation to achieve independence from russia in the supply of fresh nuclear fuel for operating VVER-1000 and VVER-440 Soviet-era reactors.

The contract for the supply of VVER-440 fuel assemblies was signed with Westinghouse in September 2020. Even before the full-scale invasion, Ukraine was committed to strengthening its energy independence, leading to the swift implementation of this significant  project.

The aggression of the russian federation necessitated the urgent adoption of this vital decision. As a result, Ukraine has acquired unique experience in fuel diversification first for VVER-1000 and now for VVER-440 reactors. Currently, seven VVER-1000 cores and one VVER-440 core are currently loaded with Westinghouse fuel. 

Ukrainian experts plant to share their knowledge and experience from this project with European countries, particularly under the EURATOM APIS Project.

There are 17 VVER-440 units in operation across Europe that are still reliant on russian fuel. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland and Bulgaria have also expressed interest in making a similar transition. 

A review of the safety analysis report on the compatibility of the in-core monitoring system at Bulgarian Kozloduy NPP Unit 5 with Westinghouse nuclear fuel will soon be conducted. This review is part of a joint contract between the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the French Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) and the Czech-Ukrainian Consortium, which includes the State Scientific and Technical Center for Nuclear and Radiation Safety (SSTC NRS) and enterprises of the Energy Safety Group.

As Dmytro Gumenyuk, Head of SSTC NRS Safety Analysis Unit, noted, Ukraine has gained unique experience that is now in demand in Europe.

“SSTC NRS has a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals. Years of experience in licensing Westinghouse fuel for Ukrainian VVER reactors and participation in the fresh nuclear fuel program diversification program enable us to share our approaches with partner countries. Ukraine’s experience in licensing and operating mixed fuel loadings, where fuel from several producers is used simultaneously in the core, positions the country as a leader in Eastern Europe in this field. Consequently, NPPs opting for Westinghouse to diversify their nuclear fuel at their sites consult SSTC NRS”, the expert emphasized. 


Tetiana Verbytska
Head of Public Relations SSTC NRS