25 years since the commissioning of the first nuclear reactor at the Cernavoda power plant

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By Jerom Bolt
On April 17, 1996, the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant was officially inaugurated, with the commissioning of the first reactor. Cernavoda was the first such plant in Eastern Europe. Romania joined the club of nuclear energy producing countries 25 years ago.
Unit 1 uses Canadian-designed CANDU (Canadian Deuterium Uranium) technology. The reactor, which uses heavy water as a moderator and coolant, and as fuel – natural uranium, reached its first criticality (initiation of the fission chain reaction) on April 16, 1996, according to the website www.nuclearelectrica.ro.
Completion works of Unit no. 1 were led since 1991 by the WSS consortium, formed in 1990 between ANSALDO – Italy and AECL – Canada, stated a press release on the date of inauguration of the first reactor. The two companies have been involved in the Cernavoda Project since the early 1980s through contracts for design, supply, technology transfer and technical assistance, concluded at that time with the Romanian Ministry of Energy. The Cernavoda project is the most important achievement in the energy sector in Eastern European countries and also the most relevant Western managerial and technical assistance initiative to ensure a level of safety in the nuclear sector in accordance with international regulations and the IAEA Vienna directives. , it was shown in the communiqué.
The Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien, welcomed, on that occasion, Romania’s entry into the community of those who use CANDU technology. In his turn, the President of the IAEA Board of Governors – Vienna, Johan Van Ebbenhorst-Tengbergen, mentioned in his speech that by inaugurating this type of nuclear power plant, Romania is aligning itself with the requirements of international forums to reduce the greenhouse effect.
On July 11, 1996, the connection of Unit 1 to the National Energy System took place, with the delivery of the first kWh of electricity produced to the generator of the Unit. On October 2 of the same year, Unit 1 reached nominal power, and on December 2, 1996, it entered commercial operation, mentions www.nuclearelectrica.ro. In 2006 the amount of electricity produced within the National Company “Nuclearelectrica” through Unit 1 of the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant was 5.631 million MWh, a record production in the ten years of commercial operation, of which 5.177 million MWh was delivered in the national system.
In 2007, Unit 2 of the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant came into commercial operation, built on the basis of a contract concluded in 2003 with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and ANSALDO – Italy. Uranium charging of the reactor began on February 15, 2007, and on May 6 of the same year, reactor 2 reached criticality. Unit 2 was connected to the national energy system at the beginning of August, and on September 6, 2007 it started operating at 100% capacity.
The Nuclear units 1 and 2 each have an installed production capacity of 700 MW. The two reactors at Cernavoda provide approximately 20% of Romania’s energy needs, according to https://www.nuclearelectrica.ro/cne/.
On August 22, 2014, the strategy for continuing the Cernavoda NPP Units 3 and 4 Project was approved. On March 16-17, 2015, the collaboration protocol between CANDU 6, CANDU Owners Group and CANDU Energy Inc was signed at Cernavoda NPP, mentions www.nuclearelectrica.ro.
The Pitesti Nuclear Fuel Plant (FCN Pitesti), located near the Arges city of Mioveni, is the only globally authorized manufacturer outside Canada for the production of fuel beams related to CANDU 6 technology by AECL Canada (now Candu Energy) and Zircatec Precision Industries Inc. Canada. Annually, the Cernavoda nuclear power plant consumes approximately 10,800 bundles of nuclear fuel produced by FCN Piteşti. From the qualitative point of view and of the results related to the production process, FCN Piteşti registers a failure rate of fuel bundles well below the limit allowed by the CANDU System Design Authority, fact confirmed by the operation and production data of Cernavoda NPP, direct beneficiary of the production from FCN Piteşti. The production of FCN Piteşti complies with the quality requirements related to the nuclear industry, environmental protection, nuclear safety and health and safety at work.

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