Hungary preps contracts for new Paks reactors

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Three more contracts must be signed by Hungary and Russia to initiate the upgrade of the Hungarian nuclear power plant in Paks, government commissioner Attila Aszódi informed Hungarian daily Népszava today.

The contracts regulate the planning, construction and launch of the new blocks — including delivery and disposal of nuclear fuel — and the operation and the preservation of existing blocks, Aszódi added.

The type of reactor being planned, the VVER series, has had little success in the West, and the Paks plant is one of the western-most such plants in the world. In the past, plans to build VVER series reactors in Germany and Czech Republic raised concerns from activists about the safety of those plants, and Germany finally chose not to build four units in Stendal. But the reactor maker, Russian energy giant Rosatom, says these concerns are mistaken.

According to Lóránt Kóti, a local Rosatom spokesman, the VVER series is also the one that has been working safely in Paks for more than 30 years. "Design of new VVER-1200 blocks was started after the year 2000 and completed in 2006," he noted. "Rosatom says the VVER-1200 blocks that are to be constructed in Paks, have new safety features, including new passive heat removal systems, protection against airplane crashes, floods and fires, and the depressurisation of the primary circuit in severe accidents."

Hungarian experts are currently drafting the contracts before presenting them for the representatives of Rosatom for further discussion. Hungary signed an intergovernmental agreement with Russia in January on the construction of the two blocks and on the preservation of existing blocks at its sole nuclear power plant located in Paks. Russia is providing €10 bln in credit for the investment.

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