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Construction runs full speed at the Akkuyu NPP as all the key reactor components have been installed at Unit 1 and welding of the primary coolant pipes is to begin soon. Meanwhile, work is underway in the country to establish legal infrastructure for the nuclear industry.
By now, all the key components of the reactor unit have been installed inside the nuclear island of Akkuyu Unit 1. The reactor pressure vessel was assembled in 2021. In the same year, main circulation pumps, emergency core cooling system (ECCS) tanks and steam generators were installed into place.
Preparations have started to proceed to the next milestone, that is, welding of the pipes that carry primary coolant. The welding operation will begin this spring and last about three months.
“The workers will have to establish a clean assembly area. When welding the primary coolant pipes, the area is kept clean, with air purity and humidity maintained, since quality of the welds in those pipes is subject to the strictest requirements,” says Sergey Butskikh, First Deputy CEO at AKKUYU NUCLEAR and Director of the under-construction nuclear power plant.
Akkuyu is one of the world’s largest nuclear sites as construction works run simultaneously at all four reactor units. Interviewed by the national Turkish news channel NTV, AKKUYU NUCLEAR CEO Anastasia Zoteeva said that installation of the reactor pressure vessel at Unit 2 would begin this year. “We use an unparalleled open-top installation technique — the reactor is lifted with a huge crane, which has a lifting capacity of 3,000 tons, and then lowered into place,” Anastasia Zoteeva explains.
Also this year, a core catcher will be installed at Unit 3. Designed by Russian engineers, it is a crucial component of the plant’s passive safety systems. At Unit 4, the workers proceeded to preparing foundations for the nuclear and turbine islands. Along with erecting the buildings for nuclear reactors and turbines, 560 other structures for general and auxiliary purposes are under construction, including coastal structures, warehouses, nuclear fuel storage and management buildings, cleanup facilities and water desalination plants.
“With 20,000 people on the site, complex equipment and an international team, Akkuyu serves as a vivid example of how the Russian and Turkish professional communities can collaborate effectively and how a construction project can be managed,” Anastasia Zoteeva pointed out.
While construction runs full speed, the Turkish government works to establish a national legal framework harmonized with international regulations and provision of the Paris Agreement regarding the use of nuclear technology and nuclear energy. Responsibilities of nuclear operators, investors and government authorities will be defined in the national law. It will also provide for the measures to protect people, environment and future generations against potentially negative effects of nuclear technology. As the law on nuclear technology develops, the country will set up boards authorized to monitor and supervise the operation of nuclear power plants and the use of atomic energy.
In February, AKKUYU NUCLEAR and the Moscow Center of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) signed an agreement to establish a universal information and expert knowledge space, accumulate expertise in nuclear power plant operation, and share the latest information. The agreement provides for cooperation in ensuring nuclear safety and reliability of the Akkuyu NPP, protecting the personnel and environment, and securing the Akkuyu nuclear site through joint expert, consulting and technical support efforts. The information space will enable the parties to interact on a daily basis.
“Sharing our experiences in construction and operation is the most efficient tool for achieving WANO’s utmost mission of nuclear power plant safety and reliability. Experience of each nuclear operator is unique and valuable. We provide a single platform for prompt information interaction between all the organizations that operate nuclear power plants,” Vasily Aksenov, Director at WANO Moscow Centre, says.
AKKUYU NUCLEAR has been a WANO member since June 20, 2019.