Rosatom concerned politics could influence reactor fuel deliveries by Westinghouse

Russia's state nuclear power corporation Rosatom has concerns that politics will affect deliveries of fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants involving the U.S. company Westinghouse, Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said in Moscow on Thursday.

Russia's state nuclear power corporation Rosatom has concerns that politics will affect deliveries of fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants involving the U.S. company Westinghouse, Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said in Moscow on Thursday.

The nuclear sector's number one priority is safety, so the key condition is that all decisions are made based on well-thought-out technological and technical conditions, commercial terms and, "preferably, that political aspects are not an impediment," Kiriyenko said. "If decisions in nuclear energy are beginning to take on a political color, then that already presents a threat," he said.

Westinghouse has a longstanding history of providing Ukraine with fuel, Kiriyenko said. In 2009, the decision was made to load plants with U.S. fuel and test loading began in 2010. In 2011-2012 problems arose with these fuel assemblages, as their configuration changed and they began to distort. "We were really concerned then, as in these reactors is Russian fuel and it was next to Westinghouse fuel," he said. "If our assemblage is near an assemblage - the reliability of which is not guaranteed - then this is a systemic threat for both our reliability and for safety," he said.

Kiriyenko said that the problem was resolved in 2012. Ukraine's nuclear power sector watchdog decided to ban the further use of Westinghouse fuel due to its unreliability and to violations of technical requirements. "What the recent commentaries in the press about a return to fuel loading mean, I don't know," Kiriyenko said, adding that Rosatom is keeping a close eye on this.

If a decision for the fuel's return is made in the context of international standard after reliability reviews and the associated testing, that would be okay, Kiriyenko said. If that is a political decision, then it is a problem, he said.

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