Kola NPP or standing at the reactor

Kola NPP or standing at the reactor


Standing on the casing of a working reactor is an interesting experience. Just a few meters under your feet 1375 megawatts of thermal power, this is almost two million horsepower poorly imagined. But nuclear decay is soundless, and you only hear the faint hum of ventilation and you feel the barely noticeable vibration from the circulation pumps with your feet. And, in general, this is not scary - you know how many equipment and people monitor the safety of the process. But, out of interest, you still get a dosimeter out of your pocket and observe invariable zeros on the scoreboard. As part of the Arctic Neforum, bloggers had an excursion to the Kola NPP, the northernmost land nuclear power plant in Europe, and I was lucky to be there.



Kola NPP is located in the city of Polar Dawns. In three hours, a bus crosses almost the entire Kola Peninsula - Murmansk south of the north coast, and the Polar Dawns are located only slightly north of the south.

Outside the window, the trees seem to be the same as in the middle lane, but they are noticeably smaller in growth. Low clouds add dark beauty to the landscape.



We are driving through Monchegorsk. Right dumps of open pit mines.



Nickel and copper production are smoking on the left.



But in general, the road is deserted, and the typical picture outside the window is trees, water and power lines.



Turn to the station and the last place to take pictures freely.



We were not allowed to remove the station from outside, so this photo is from the official site . There is nothing to be done, the nuclear power plant is a sensitive facility. But, fortunately, we filmed the most interesting thing.



Before you show or tell something, you should spend a very short educational program. A nuclear reactor generates heat that heats the water, the resulting steam turns the turbines connected to generators that generate electricity. There are four VVER-440 reactors at the Kola NPP, two were built in the first stage and two in the second. VVER - water-cooled reactors, and in them the heat from the reactor core first heats the water of the primary circuit, which is under pressure and does not boil. Then, in the steam generators, heat is transferred to the second circuit water, which boils, and already its steam turns the turbines and generators.

We visited the machine room, where turbines and generators stand, the reactor control unit, climbed onto the reactor itself, and also looked at a separate radioactive waste processing facility.



General view from the end of the engine room. Left turbine generator housing.



A larger plan. The turbo generator is under repair and partially disassembled. Therefore, the hall is much quieter than usual, and the earplugs issued at the beginning of the tour look like an unnecessary precaution.



These two blocks, the generator and the pathogen, will be lifted and placed on the left side in the photo above.



Station works, somewhere in this tangle of tubes is steam under pressure, a small part of which is externally harmless rising from the chimney.



But given the helmet came in handy more than once. Despite the bright marking crossing pass designs, several times I noticed them just after impact.



The view from the middle of the machine room. The total length of the turbine hall — 520 meters.



Turbine closeup. Staff rotation frequency is 3000 rpm or 50 per second. It is born and used in industry and everyday life current frequency of 50 Hz.



Bridge crane passes over the turbine. Please note that the generator is not parsed.



Our next stop is the control room (a control room). It is from here that control the reactor.br/>


An interesting feature symbols on AES — enabled and open elements highlight in red and turned off and closed green.



MCR shift is eight hours long and consists of only three people. I remember that the reactor operates at constant power, and thinking that change — it is boring, ask whether you are using here the analogue of the train hitchhiking (the operator should regularly press the button to confirm that he is not asleep). I respond that there is plenty of work even on steady mode, and doze off in no time.



Information on running the reactor. Unlike reactors, where the possibility of refueling on the go, and MCR is shown big and beautiful scheme of a reactor with the information on each channel of VVER refueling occurs while the reactor is stopped, and the operator is sufficient information on the reactor as a whole. A circuit (circle at the top) in the work is not used.



Employees say that after the release of the TV series “Chernobyl” from their HBO on the tour ask where the button AZ-5. Here are the red button — the emergency protection, which is used for the damping reactor.br/>


On the opposite wall of MCR also controls can be located. Glad that didn't bring a backpack and they can not accidentally hitting something.



Particularly important elements are covered to protect from accidental switching. Two red cap at the top of sections is turned off at the time of the works.



The reactor and other potentially radioactive areas are the so-called zone of the controlled access. Dress in personal protective equipment (shirt, cap, pants, jacket, helmet, socks, shoes) and obtain dosimeters. In the hallway before hanging sanitary inspection funny poster — “the personal protective equipment at work you can feel like an astronaut”.



There are no windows in the controlled access zone, and a separate rather big room with powerful equipment is engaged in ventilation.



And here we are in the reactor hall. There are 3 and 4 power units, they were built later and differ in appearance from 1 and 2. View of the reactor casing 3. The orange circles on the floor are the covers of the main circulation pumps.



View of power unit 4 from the third casing.



Selfies on the casing of a working reactor. Blue helmets are bloggers, green helmets are station staff. Next to me in a green helmet is our main guide and engineer of the Information and Public Relations Department, Julia Makarikhina.



The zeros on the dosimeter remained zeros at the end of the tour. And right.



We pass to the fourth power unit. Here stands a reloading machine, engaged in loading and unloading fuel assemblies to/from the reactor. It is mobile, can be moved between power units in the hall and usually stands where the last hours were performed.



A 250-ton bridge crane is installed under the ceiling of the hall.



We leave the reactor hall and see information on the radiation situation. We walked around the green zone, where you can be free. You can’t enter the yellow zones without an outfit for radiation hazardous work. And if suddenly a red one appears, then access to it will require permission from the radiation safety department.



Well, our last stop is a complex for processing liquid radioactive waste. The idea is simple - nuclear power plants produce two types of waste - ordinary and radioactive. Ordinary people are not dangerous, and theoretically they can be sent to an ordinary landfill (they do this in Europe, but we use separate landfills). But the radioactive must be buried in accordance with all the rules so that they do not pose a danger to the environment. And every kilogram of cemented or vitrified waste costs money. But if you use advanced technology, you can clean up the waste, and although cleaning costs money, you can save a lot more on reducing the amount of landfilled waste.



Here, far from everywhere you can go without additional protection.



Cleaning control room. On the right-hand side of the screen, something regularly flows in a thin stream from a pipe and comes out in puffs of steam.



And here is the end result of what flowed out in the photo above. These are refined boron salts. In the VVER reactor core, primary water is circulated with the addition of boric acid. This is called boron regulation. Spent borates become waste. A sophisticated technology for the treatment of liquid radioactive waste allows them to be extracted and, for example, sold. True, industry consumes much more boron salts than is being restored at nuclear power plants, but the main benefit is the reduction in volume. A small repository could contain the waste for tens of years of station operation, and now the complex is processing of what has become of waste in Soviet times. It is curious that, according to the staff, they encountered the equivalent of “geological layers”, when the containers of even more a long time suddenly start to be processed worse — in the forgotten eighty-some year something changed, and the composition of the waste differs. It is necessary to analyze what has changed, and adjust the process.



In the blue barrels safe raw materials. But under our feet containers of radioactive waste. Can't believe it, but a small store, which contains waste from decades of operation of nuclear power plants, almost empty.



But it is a container for radioactive waste. Here is all seriously — thick metal walls and powerful cover.



Start moving back. But just from the area of controlled access not exit. Need to make sure you were clean from radioactive contamination. Pictured is one of many posts of radiation control — get up to the platform, placed his hands in the detector, it measures the activity.



Another post-radiation monitoring.



The sanitary inspection pass protection and dosimeters, wash my face and go back to the free access zone. After lunch (excellent, by the way, the dining room), go back to Murmansk.



Video format 360°.


Thanks to Rosatom for the organization of Neuroma the Arctic, and the station staff for a wonderful tour. Also thanks to the team of Live Journal for the invitation and great company.

Source text: Kola NPP or standing at the reactor