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The protected atom. Tests of the LAES-2 reactor will begin by the end of March


Cold and hot tests of the nuclear reactor at the under-construction LAES-2 nuclear power station are scheduled to begin before the end of March. The schedule was set by the general director of RosEnergoAtom agency Andrey Petrov. But is the station - which will be secured by the National Guard - ready for tests? Lidiya Viyelba went to the places that even the construction workers would not get to soon. She found out what the contribution of St. Petersburg's nuclear physicists was.


St. Petersburg. Seismically inactive zone. Tsunamis are not possible in the shallow waters of the Baltics. But still – protection against earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and even a plane crash. That's the standard procedure of the emergency complex

Lidiya Vielba, reporter: “The reactor hall - the heart of LAES-2 - as well as the nuclear reactor which has no equal in the world, are both equipped with four layers of sefety. Underneath us, at the death of 33m is the know-how of St. Petersburg's project designers – the so-called fallout trap. The entity which in case of a hypothetical catastrophe would contain all radioactive materials and encapsulate it to prevent a possible chain reaction”

But it's the controllable reaction of the nuclear fallout which launches the energy release – the boiling water turns into steam, which gets into the turbine through a separator. It powers the electrical generator, which provides the eventual consumers with electric power

Alexander Beschastnov, deputy head of reactor hall at LAES-2: “The partition of uranium will happen here, the transformation of neuron energy into heat energy. There are also passive safety systems here. There are no reactors like that – not in Russia or anywhere else in the world”

Our crew would be the last guests at this venue. The workshop will be closed off for the next 60 years and will be controlled remotely. With such capabilities, scenarios like at Fukushima or Chernobyl would be impossible – and that is something that tests would confirm.

Nikolay Schestakov, CEO, “Kalininatomtechenergo”: “We reach 300° and begin applying pressure to the equipment. We have to test even the scenarios which are barely possible in real life”

The construction has been going on for a decade. The first capsule was laid back in 2007. Back then 250 billion rubles were allocated for the construction. More than half of St. Petersburg’s current budget. Subcontractors and schedules have all changed over the years. But in one year the first reactor will become operational. But if the principle of a nuclear reactor's work is more or less common, the output capacity of the station depends on the technical gear

Lidiya Vielba, reporter: “This is the fastest turbine ever assembled in St. Petersburg. 3000 spins a minute, 50 per second. If at the already operating LAES nuclear station every reactor has two turbines with 500 MW, one turbine here produces 1200 mW”

After two reactors have been launched, the nuclear power station will provide 70% of electricity in the Northwest. And the old LAES station will be gradually taken out of operation

Yuriy Markov, general director at “Atomtechenergo”: “Our foreign colleagues have been interested in this station. We're also planning the construction of such in Finland, Bangladesh, and, hopefully, Egypt and Jordan”

Part of the spent nuclear fuel will be sent by rail into the depository located in the Krasnoyarskiy region. The rest would be recycled on the spot, to close off the production cycle and nullify the potential ecological threat.