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Supporting the licensing of Western nuclear fuel for reactors of VVER design operating in the EU

Specific Challenge: Attempts were made to diversify the nuclear fuel supply for Russian pressurized water reactors (VVER). Although successful at some nuclear power plants operated in the EU it was abandoned for different reasons. As many as 16 VVERs are operating in the EU (essentially in the new Member States) and another 15 in Ukraine where feedback is also available on the potential safety issues. The diversification of fuel supply in EU VVER plants would be relevant for greater security of energy supply. However, the licensing in the EU of VVER reactor fuel assemblies manufactured by a new supplier requires a full range of safety evaluations for which R&D is to be carried out at EU level, involving industrial and regulatory (or TSO) experts.

Scope: This activity will build on the experience gained in different VVER plants in the EU and on well-documented irradiation campaign results (either past or on-going). It should aim at establishing all necessary safety analyses, tests and procedures in view of the further licensing of VVER fuel manufactured by Western suppliers, with due consideration to international safety standards. This would involve the assessment of accident safety cases produced by operators and their evaluation by regulatory authorities with the help of their TSOs. A strong cooperation between countries with experience in such adaptation of fuel type and other countries concerned shall be established. This cooperation initiative should allow reinforcing as quickly as possible the European capabilities in this domain. This activity to be fully relevant should consider different Western fuel sources.

Expected Impact: This action contributes to the security of supply of nuclear fuel for VVER reactors operating in the EU by supporting the diversification of fuel sources in the short / medium term in full compliance with nuclear safety standards.

Type of action:  Research and Innovation action