Russia prepares to start new Kalinin 4 Nuclear Reactor and Japan will have two step stress tests for their reactors

1. Russia’s Kalinin 4 has moved a step nearer to startup with the commencement of hydraulic testing of the primary circuit of the VVER-1000 unit. Dummy fuel was loaded into the unit in May. The unit is scheduled to start up in September 2011.

2. Two-step stress tests for Japanese plants planned.

Japanese reactors shut for periodic inspections would be able to restart after successfully completing the initial step of ‘stress tests’, while all units would be subjected to more comprehensive tests in a second stage.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yukiyo Edano, has now said that the stress tests would be conducted in two phases. Step one, he said, would be applied to the 35 reactors which have been taken offline for periodic inspections to determine whether they could withstand large earthquakes and tsunamis. Under this step, utilities will be required to examine the safety margin of important pieces of equipment in accordance with guidelines to be set by the country’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) and Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC). Based on the results of these initial tests, the government will decide whether a reactor shut for inspections can or cannot resume operation.

Step two will involve a comprehensive safety assessment of all reactors and will be conducted to enhance the reliability of safety checks. These tests, Edano said, will be similar to the stress tests proposed by the European Union (EU).

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