About two years later, in August 1949, American scientists, based on data from their reconnaissance aircraft, received information that a nuclear bomb was tested in the Soviet Union. In parallel with these works, the issue of creating nuclear power plants was actively discussed. In 1954, the first nuclear power plant was launched.
In the US, the atom is larger
Today, 31 nuclear power units are operating in the 440 country of the world. They produce 16 percent of all electricity. The largest park of nuclear power plants - in the US, 103 power unit. In France - 59 power units, in Japan - 55, in Russia - 31. At the same time, the share of nuclear power generation in power plants in France is 80% of all electricity, in Belgium - 60%, in Bulgaria, Sweden, Ukraine - 50%, in the USA - 20%, in Russia - 16%.
The topic of nuclear energy is often becoming a bargaining chip in the political struggle of various movements that are building their anti-Russian activities, including opposing the atom.
What I saw
We, journalists from nine newspapers from Rostov-on-Don, Novoshakhtinsk, Shakhty, Kamensk and Tatsinsky district, visited a two-day press tour at the Rostov NPP.
What I like about the work of the correspondent is that you never know where the next editorial task will send you and what topic you will have to learn in order to accomplish it. At the journalistic faculty of the RSU (now SFU) we were taught genres of journalism, journalism ethics, stories print and other specialized items. We have been learning literature since ancient times, we know Russian well. But in practice, this specific knowledge is not enough, and much has to be mastered by ourselves, depending on what the next report is about. When the mines worked, we studied the intricacies of mining. We delve into the essence of economic processes, we study the legislation. Each production, before you write about it, requires from the journalist at least a superficial study of it. Therefore, the proposal to go to the Rostov nuclear power plant was a bit puzzled. I must admit that I didn’t have worked with physics from school yet, and even more so nuclear physics. But interesting business trips outside the city do not happen often, moreover, the Rostov NPP is one of the largest enterprises in the region, which provides substantial support to the economy of the entire southern region. The interest in it is huge. Even a simple man in the street would be curious to go and see such a big deal as a nuclear power plant from the inside, and even more so for a journalist. The trip was organized by the press club "Clean Energy" together with the Rostov regional organization of the Union of Journalists of Russia for correspondents of regional and local newspapers.
There were few journalists, only nine. “And they will not let you go there with a large staff,” explained Sergey Nikolayevich Yanchevsky, head of the public information center of the Rostov NPP. He accompanied us from Rostov to Volgodonsk. Four hours later we were on the spot. The first thing that attracted attention when the bus drove into the territory of the nuclear power plant was a large kiot with the image of the Virgin Mary and the words “Holy Mother of God, save us!” Frankly, this made a far-off impression and somehow immediately wanted to turn back. Still, the nuclear power plant is a dangerous production facility, I immediately recalled numerous rumors that periodically excite society, about accidents at the station, radiation emissions ... However, all my fears turned out to be fundamentally wrong and completely unfounded. To ensure the safe operation of the station, they are approached in the most serious way, and all its activities are governed by the principle: “Safety is above profit”. And although during the two-day press tour questions were addressed very different, the main purpose of communication between the station staff and journalists, in my opinion, was to convince that nuclear power is not just efficient and economical, but above all safe and environmentally friendly.
To begin with, getting to a nuclear power plant is far from easy. The control of entry and exit is the cruelest, through a number of access devices equipped with automatic equipment and working only on the electronic pass. Cameras are monitored, sensors keep records of the number of people who have entered and left, the situation is strictly monitored by the security staffed by the military. Previously, even before the trip, we were requested not only by our passport data, but also by data on professional equipment. At the entrance to the nuclear power plant it all checked out. The discrepancy even in one letter or number in the series or the name of the camera or voice recorder turned into a problem - they were simply not allowed to carry. We were also forbidden to take with us all personal belongings, including mobile phones.
For two days of work at the NPP, we had a tour of the second power unit, on the NPP territory, we got acquainted with the work of the environmental protection department, the training unit, the information center of the nuclear power plant and the dispensary, where the NPP operating personnel undergoes a planned rehabilitation. We communicated with the press secretary of the Rostov NPP Igor Kuksin, the deputy chief engineer of the RoAES Aleksey Zhukov, and other specialists of the plant. In his busy work schedule, I found time to communicate with the press and the Director of RoAES, AV. Palamarchuk. Very simply P. Yu. Told us about the complex. Kormushkin, a man who gave 47 to nuclear power years, of which 25 years - at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors and 22 of the year - at RoAES as deputy chief engineer for nuclear safety and head of nuclear safety. After retiring, he continued to work in the information center of the nuclear power plant. We received a tremendous amount of information about what a nuclear power plant is, how it is arranged and why the future is behind nuclear power.
Rostov NPP is a branch of Rosenergoatom Concern OJSC. This is the southernmost of the Russian nuclear power plants. It is located on the shores of the Tsimlyansk reservoir in 13,5 km from Volgodonsk. When choosing a site for the construction of a new NPP, the main criterion was not only the possibility of ensuring safe operation, but also such a factor as a significant shortage of electricity in the North Caucasus. The full-scale construction of the NPP in Volgodonsk began in the distant 1979 and continued successfully until the 1990 year, after which the project was frozen. Only in 1998, after a lot of checks and examinations, the State Environmental Expert Commission declared the facility under construction safe and rebuilt construction. Today, the station has two power units. The first with a VVER-1000 reactor and a power of 1000 MW was commissioned in the 2001 year. The power unit №2 with a similar reactor operates in pilot operation mode. After all the tests have been completed, it will be commissioned - this is scheduled for October. At the same time, the station is building the third and fourth power units, their launch is scheduled for 2014-2016 years.
Sulfates, nitrates, phosphates and other "chemistry"
Before we went to the engine room of the second power unit, we were taken to the environmental protection department and the laboratory of the department. The usual classic laboratory, with a typical set of equipment. Many indoor flowers.
"And it is necessary. Fresh flowers should be in the laboratory, as a rule, it is a sign of good taste, ”they explained to us. The laboratory staff, all with higher education and accreditation, monitor everything around - the soil, air, earth, wildlife, control everything - sulfates, nitrates, phosphates and other "chemistry".
The ionizing factor is being assessed separately, but the radiation control department is already engaged in this. We were not able to go there, but later we were told in detail about the essence of his activities. Measured gamma background on the ground and the content of radionuclides in the surface layer of air, in sediments, in the water of the Tsimlyansky reservoir, cooling pond, sewage treatment plants, groundwater and drinking water, soil, vegetation, food, bottom sediments, fish, algae.
The territory of the NPP itself, the three-kilometer sanitary protection zone and the 30-kilometer observation zone are under constant control.
“You may be suspicious of the bias of the data being received,” anticipated our question, P.Yu. Kormushkin, employee of the RoAES information center. “However, both integrated environmental monitoring and radiation monitoring are carried out constantly and under the control of a number of organizations - environmental agencies, the Rosatom concern, the Ministry of Atomic Energy, and the Interregional Department of the Federal Chemical and Biological Agency. The Agency is a so-called fiscal body that maintains its own, independent control and does not coordinate the data obtained with the data obtained by the laboratories of the nuclear power plant. But even once in the results of our measurements and measurements of the agency there were no discrepancies.
And the results show that the content of all harmful substances does not exceed the “zero background”, that is, those indicators that were made a year before the launch of the first power unit of the nuclear power plant, and the content of radionuclides is not detected even by the devices of the highest sensitivity that the nuclear power plants are equipped with today.
Why do iodine people?
Inside the machine room - noisy and hot. Here a turbine is installed, which is driven by hot steam and which in turn rotates the generator. Mashzal is only part of the power unit, which is designed and built as an independent object. The building of the turbine hall is connected to the trim of the reactor compartment. VVER reactors are installed at Rostov NPP - water-cooled power reactors with a capacity of 1000 MW. Such reactors have already proven themselves abroad and many experts are considered the best for the nuclear industry. It is equipped with powerful security systems. As P.Yu. told us. Kormushkin, the cost of security systems is 40 percent of the cost of equipment of the entire power unit. They do not participate in energy production in any way, but ... “Safety is above profit” - this was emphasized to us more than once.
Nevertheless, the myth of the incredible danger of nuclear power plants sits firmly in the minds of ordinary people, rumors periodically arise about explosions or fires at the station, about the next harmful emissions into the atmosphere, after which the population buys up all the iodine in pharmacies. “This has nothing to do with reality,” the NPP specialists assured us. All because of the lack of knowledge among people about nuclear energy. And for two days, this lack of knowledge has been actively filled for us.
Chernobyl will not
Probably I will not be mistaken if I say that the majority of the adult population will have Chernobyl as the first association at the mention of a nuclear power plant. We are not threatened by such a catastrophe. To explain why, it is first necessary to clarify what the VVER reactor is. This is a reactor type vessel. Its body is a steel thick-walled vessel capable of withstanding pressure up to 160 atmospheres. Inside the case is the core, which contains nuclear fuel.
We will not go into the intricacies of the device and the principles of operation of the reactor, we will give only the words of P.Yu. Kormushkina: “If the Soviet industry had been able to produce a sufficient number of such buildings before, the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant would not have happened. But since she could not do this, the idea of an alternative, channel-type RBMK reactor appeared, which turned out to be extremely unsuccessful. ”
It was he who was installed at the Chernobyl NPP and did not have anything similar to the VVER reactor. There is no steel case, in the active zone - graphite, combustible material, in fact coal. But most importantly, the physics of the core was not calculated. According to the rules of nuclear safety, all random processes in the reactor, whether it is a surge in power or an increase in pressure, should lead to the damping of the reactor. And this is the main requirement of the designers of the time was violated. With a sharp boiling of steam and an increase in its volume in the core, the reactor, on the contrary, began to accelerate. This mistake was understood many years later. And then ... That night an experimental program was conducted. Operators, without knowing it themselves, brought the reactor into an uncontrolled acceleration mode. The water boiled sharply, the power of the reactor increased several times, the pressure jumped. Steam explosion turned the roof. It was a disaster, but not the main one. The catastrophe began when, after three days, the unplugged reactor began to enter power, heat up, and graphite caught fire. A graphite fire raged 10 days. The temperature was like in a blast furnace. A column of hot air carried up one and a half kilometers, everything that was in the active zone melted, evaporated, and all the accumulated radioactive dirt was spread by air through Europe. Without this fire, the scale of the tragedy would be completely different. Even the village of Pripyat would not be polluted.
Such reactors are no longer built. However, 11 is still in operation in Russia - at the Leningrad, Kursk and Smolensk NPPs. They were reconstructed and found to be safe. And, nevertheless, after they have completed their service, backup stations equipped with VVER reactors will be built. Since even reconstructed, they do not have a main - protective hermetic shell.
The dome will withstand a drop in aircraft weighing up to 20 tons
The power units of the Rostov nuclear power plant with VVER-1000 reactors are the first project that satisfies all the safety standards of nuclear power plants, since it is equipped with a protective hermetic enclosure. It houses a nuclear reactor. The containment is the safety guarantee that protects the environment from radioactive releases in the event of the most terrible accident, and journalists have repeatedly paid attention to this. Its height is almost 67 meters, the thickness of reinforced concrete walls is 1,2 meters. This, as we were assured by the station experts, is an exceptionally durable structure. It is able to withstand all tornadoes and hurricanes, and the domed part is the fall of an aircraft weighing up to 20 tons. It can not be pierced by any anti-aircraft missile systems, it can withstand an earthquake of seven points.
And most importantly, the containment is built in order to protect the environment in case of any accident that may occur at the reactor installation. It is able to withstand the internal pressure in 5 atmospheres or 50 tons per square meter.
As an example, we were given an accident at one of the nuclear power plants in the United States, which happened in 1979 year. There the safety valve on the circuit failed, it stuck in the open position. Through it, half the volume of water was lost. The active zone of the nuclear reactor became bare and almost completely melted, and as a result, the emission of fission products began. Hermetic shell has fulfilled its duty - nothing has got into the environment.
"Yellow" tomatoes, acid rain
We were asked to compare the performance of the nuclear power plant and the stations running on coal and gas. If the same power unit with a capacity of 1000 megawatts was built on coal, it would consume almost 6 million tons of fuel per year, burn 5,5 a billion cubic meters of oxygen and emit 100 thousand tons of fine ash into the atmosphere. “It is terribly harmful,” P.Yu. Kormushkin. “It falls into the lungs, settles in them and causes cancer.”
The following are the data. Along with carbon dioxide, burning coal, 124 also contains thousands of tons of sulfur oxide and 34 of thousands of tons of nitrogen oxide. Flying into the pipe, they are combined with water vapor and - to recall simple formulas from the school chemistry course - they turn into sulfuric and nitric acid, which then falls on our heads with precipitates. The same emissions, only in smaller amounts, occur when burning fuel oil and gas.
This is where acid rain comes from, because of which “cucumbers are not born” and “tomatoes turn yellow” - something that is being reproached for the work of nuclear scientists. Although the plant does not consume any coal or fuel oil, does not burn oxygen and does not give harmful emissions into the atmosphere. That is why nuclear energy is the most environmentally friendly producer of heat energy, as evidenced by many years of observation and constant monitoring, the results of which we spoke above. And by the way, TPP, then metallurgy and then the chemical industry occupy leading positions in terms of harmful emissions among industrial production.
Exposure dose of a resident of a country - 3,8 millisievert per year
According to the chief sanitary doctor of Russia, Gregory Onishchenko, the average individual radiation dose of a resident is 3,8 millisiverts per year. (Milliezivert is a new unit of measurement, 1 mSv is equal to 100 millirategens.) We receive radiation from everywhere — through medical procedures, from soil and food, from working household appliances, and so on. According to the law of radiation safety, the radiation dose given by a nuclear power plant should not exceed 1 mSv per year. SanPiN sets its emission standard - 0,01 mSv per year, that is, a hundred times less.
However, the WWER-100 reactor has very low emissions, which fit into the 1 percentage of the established standards.
“The irradiation of a nuclear power plant is not higher than 0,001 mSv. We can guarantee this, ”P.Yu. Kormushkin.
This value is not detectable by any instrument. The natural background radiation is ten times higher than the doses emitted by nuclear power plants. The annual dose of external and internal exposure, which is received by residents of the 10-kilometer zone around the VVER reactor, is equal to 0,079 mSv per year. The same dose is given to a person who watches TV for an hour and a half. A once-a-year x-ray of the lungs gives us a dose of 1 mSv. But it should be understood that these doses are much lower than the natural level of background radiation, therefore, one should not be afraid of nuclear power plants, televisions or fluorography.
Fountains at nuclear power plants
Water plays a key role in the generation of energy at a nuclear power plant. It is used as a coolant — it is pumped through the core under high pressure and removes heat from the nuclear fuel. Water serves as a neutron moderator and is used when replacing the burnt fuel with fresh fuel to cool the reactor. In the event of an accident and a reactor shutdown, it is necessary that its core is always in the water. Water enters the reactor from the cooling pond - part of the Tsimlyansk reservoir, separated by a bulk dam, the area of the pond 18 square. km In contrast to the reservoir, the water level in the cooling pond never changes. And even if we imagine that the water in the reservoir completely disappears, 50 million cubic meters of pond water will stop and cool down NPP units in normal operation. But these fountains, located on the territory of the NPP, are a splash pool designed for cooling the water of security systems.
In the training center, theoretical and practical training of operational staff of the RoNPP is mandatory - 40 hours per year. With exams and tests. We study the regulatory documentation governing the activities of nuclear power plants, changes in it, work out the failures that occurred on the equipment, consider abnormal situations, and so on. At the training point we were able to see the exact layouts of the main equipment of the power unit.
The turbine of the reactor is controlled remotely from the unit control panel, which is located in the containment surrounding the containment of the reactor. During the tour, we were able to see how the operators manage such a complex system as the reactor. There was no access to the block shield itself, but we visited its full-scale simulator. This is a complete analogue of the unit control panel. Everything is exactly the same in it - all toggle switches, all light bulbs, all levers. The room has a similar size and even the color of the floor and ceiling. The only difference is that the simulator does not control the reactor turbine, but a computer that has exactly the same parameters and characteristics as the real power unit. Here, all the operating personnel of the NPP, which manages the power unit, undergo training and maintain their qualifications. For practical testing of actions on the simulator, situations are created with equipment failure, pipeline ruptures and other emergencies, which employees must competently eliminate.
What did the director say
The press tour to the Rostov nuclear power plant coincided with one of the serious and crucial periods in the work of the nuclear power plant. There was preparation for the commencement of tests of the second power unit, the commission followed the commission, so the entire station management worked in a tight schedule. However, Deputy General Director of Energoatom Concern OJSC, Director of the Rostov Nuclear Power Plant Branch A.V. Palamarchuk, found the opportunity to meet with journalists. It was immediately agreed: the conversation will last no more than 10-15 minutes. However, we talked for more than half an hour. The range of topics has expanded, from safety and environmental friendliness, we moved to production issues, plans and prospects.
- Alexander Vasilievich, tell me, will the fifth, the sixth, follow the construction of the third and fourth power units?
- The fact is that the shortage of electricity in the south of the country, which is today, will continue. The more the infrastructure of the south develops, the greater will be the consumption of electricity. This year, the maximum consumption of electricity, which traditionally happens in December, came as early as August. And then it will go only incrementally. It is estimated that for every million of the population there should be a million kilowatts of installed capacity. Today we have a total of only 25 millions on the 11 of millions of residents of the Southern Federal District and the North Caucasus Federal District. Therefore, today we have great prospects. So large-scale that we currently cannot imagine half of what will be realized in 10 years.
- And if you look not so far?
- I can share plans. In the framework of the development of energy in Russia - the use of solar energy. For the first time in the country, a project will be implemented as part of the creation of the “Green Island” with a generation of 1 megawatts. It was entrusted to Rosatom, and the Rostov NPP was chosen as the site. We are already an environmentally friendly, reliable source of electricity production, and now we intend to use the most returnable sources. Solar energy is a prospect, and we want to be first in this.
- Alexander Vasilievich, the station team is a 1900 man, most of it is youth. For them, one of the highlights of the work is the possibility of career growth. Tell us how it happens, what criteria you are guided by, because the production of electricity is an activity, the result of which is intangible.
- We are a growing station, developing. Therefore, career growth is guaranteed. Enough enthusiasm and desire to take responsibility. As part of the production of electricity, we give the highest priority to the issue of security. And the defining here are the person, his abilities and talents. And for a man there is nothing more important than his inner postulates. We have lived a life without deep faith, with the substitution of important, significant concepts. The collapse in Chernobyl was the event that showed that it was impossible to continue living in an immoral society. And each person should remember this and demonstrate all his abilities, his talents, and confirm them with the results of his work. The engineer should always be improved. If he stops - will be gone. Also maintaining qualifications, the learning process. It’s impossible to achieve confidence that you are the best, that you are perfect. We must strive to achieve even more, testing knowledge in practice. All this is inherent in the principles of safety culture, which are formed in each employee of the nuclear power plant. There is no limit to knowledge. Especially for an atomic engineer. Therefore, who wants and seeks - he achieves the desired.
- Recently, a branch of a higher educational institution has opened in Volgodonsk, which will train personnel for the nuclear industry. Tell us more about it.
- Yes, this year we have opened the Volgodonsk Engineering and Technical Institute - a branch of the National Research Nuclear University of the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute. We consider this to be an important factor in the development of nuclear energy, and the potential of the industry, scientific and industrial, will accumulate. The branch will conduct training and advanced training for specialists of all NPPs. Training goes on 11 specialties, and for the first time nuclear scientists took up the training of builders for nuclear facilities.
- Next year for the station anniversary, 10 years. Will you celebrate sweepingly?
- And what is meant by “sweepingly”? Making plans and getting two units to produce 15 billion kilowatt hours is a bold move. Yes, and 10 years - is it a time for a nuclear power plant? That's half a century - it's worth it to celebrate.
One "pill" on the palm is equal to the coal car
These “pills” in the palm of your hand, or rather, fuel matrices, are nothing more than fuel for nuclear reactors. This is uranium dioxide. As we explained, fresh fuel, which has not yet been in the reactor, has very little radioactivity, and it can be safely, like this, held in the hands. One such pill gives off as much heat as a wagon of coal. In a nuclear reactor, in its active zone, is 17,5 million pieces of fuel matrix, about 80 tons. They are placed in zirconium tubes, which are welded at both ends and connected to fuel assemblies. One assembly is 312 of such tubes. A reactor assemblies - 163.
Yes, the nuclear power plant requires increased attention and caution, like any industrial facility that produces this amount of energy. However, nuclear facilities are much safer than many alternative sources of energy, and we were told this convincingly for two days. I can hardly put forward all the arguments, I can only add that the reactor has four safety barriers. In addition, the plant has created conditions for the operation of nuclear reactors that exclude any negative consequences due to personnel errors, that is, the so-called human factor. Under no circumstances can a nuclear reactor explode like a nuclear bomb. A thorough, long-term analysis of possible accidents shows that reliable and trouble-free operation of the plant is ensured by strict adherence to safety rules, which, as we have said, is given the first priority at the Rostov NPP. And it is more correct to evaluate possible risks not on an emotional level, but on the basis of knowledge.
The day will be next and there will be sunshine. It is the receipt of free solar energy on an industrial scale that has been worrying more than one year for scientists. Again, a revolutionary change of established concepts and principles. To overcome them, perhaps, one should take advantage of the experience of Russian 20 scientists of the last century, who have become today a legend of world science. After all, people always lacked energy. Receiving new energy sources is becoming a priority state task again.