11 November 2020

WNISR

Closure of Russian Chernobyl‑type Reactor

Inside the Leningrad RBMK Nuclear Power Plant - Photo Rosenergoatom

WNISR, 11 November 2020

The Leningrad-2 reactor was closed on 10 November 2020. This is the fifth reactor closure in the world in 2020 after two units closed each in France and the U.S.

The 45-year-old Leningrad reactor was connected to the grid on 11 July 1975. The closure follows the grid connection of Leningrad 2-2 which took place on 23 October 2020. It is the second Chernobyl-type RBMK design to be taken off the grid at the Sosnovy Bor site in Western Russia, following Leningrad-1 which was closed for decommissioning on 21 December 2018. Builder-operator Rosatom plans to complete construction and operate four VVER-1200 at the site while replacing over time all four RBMK-1000. Construction has yet to start on the two other Leningrad units.

The closure of Leningrad-2 leaves a total of nine RBMK-design reactors in operation worldwide, all of which are located in the Russian Federation. How to safely dismantle graphite-moderated reactors and permanently dispose of the large amounts of waste has yet to be demonstrated anywhere. The 2019-World Nuclear Waste Report notes: “In France, too, most of the low-level long-lived waste (LL-LLW) is going to be the graphite waste from the gas-cooled reactors [GCRs], which will arise during the decommissioning of the GCRs. There is no disposal route, not even theoretically, for the graphite waste.”