My trip to the St. Petersburg NPP-2 construction site

ROSATOM:
Lately there has been ample discussion about NPP-2 outside of St Petersburg. For example, that the construction workers operate in some sort of intolerable, inhumane conditions; claims that the workers do not even have a place to change clothes, or that slave immigrant labor is used …

Naturally, this is of course, a rumor — As Vladimir Vysotsky sang: so many rumors penetrate our ears it’s amazing. And indeed, it is better to see something with my own eyes or the eyes of other bloggers. After all, many managed to visit various Russian nuclear power plants.

So recently I took a trip to this so called NPP-2. And the author of the blog dugwin.net made a truthful report about it. It includes photographs, in which we can see the conditions in which the contractors work in and of course the workers as well as the ongoing construction itself.

Below is a report with multiple photos

«Dear Editor, maybe more about the reactor?»

We can talk about the reactor itself. Speaking of which, a couple of days ago I was just at the construction of one similar power plant. This was a trip to the construction of SELA-2 nuclear power plant project organized by «AEP» (SPb AEP), to whom I am grateful for providing me with this opportunity. In my opinion, to invite the public in the face of internet bloggers is the most efficient way of communicating information about such projects today. After all, if the organization had nothing to hide and have something to show, then why not? Bloggers, after all, are not bored journalists, all of whom have already seen what needs to be seen, but interested people who are curious about details. I am very glad that this movement is gaining momentum.

The organizers welcomed us like family, they took us through the city center near the building SPbAEP, linking to the general facility. There we were briefed, fed, and brought back. On paperwork I generally do not know all the care taken by the organization: to provide transportation, coordinate the visit and such. By the way, when registering, aside from our names and passport numbers they had requested the serial numbers of all equipment, including mobile phone and other technology. Right away it became clear that they take security seriously.

I will forewarn that I am in no shape or form a nuclear specialist, so I will not lecture you about things that I pretend to have accurate knowledge of.

The construction itself, of course, is of large proportions — employing about 3,000 people, of whom slightly less than a third are not employed at the site in Pine Forest. Construction work is led by AEP and other subcontractors. Upon entering the site, we received white helmets with the word «visitor»; the workers’ helmets were orange. Color coding allowed everybody to differentiate between workers and ourselves. It is not so easy to gain access to the construction site itself; it was well fenced off with an access-control point.

Here is our group marching through the site. I, of course, was falling behind and struggling to catch up all the time.

This is another building altogether, although very similar — a new dining room.

The dining room is almost ready to go, work is being finalized. Intended for a capacity of 1200 (!) People

The next hour and a half we spent outside. To put it mildly, its winter and it was damn cold. I managed to snap as many photographs as I could before my fingers became numb and I could not feel the buttons. I heard the shutter sound and hid the camera right away.

Seen in the background is a fence with barbed wire.

Now let’s talk about the workers. The subject of migration, including immigration has for long been a worrisome topic to me. We have an incredibly passive attitude in this respect among the population. Generally accepted whining among the people about unemployment and that there is «no work» while at the same time sitting still and doing nothing themselves. Especially now when there are such a long-term construction projects, that go on for years. At this time, you can easily pick up and move to another city along with your family. Special organizations and programs contribute to this: there are preferential mortgage plans and so on. I’m not even going to mention that this particular construction site is not the only one of such projects in the country.

In this case, a large portion is composed of local workers; some are from other regions of Russia. For their residence, the company has purchased former military quarters where they are taken by bus. I then asked, whether are the migrant workers there? Seemingly normal tough guys were suspiciously glancing at our white helmets. The owners mentioned that foreign nationals are not employed in the project; bureaucratic issues with migrant workers only complicate the overall process. I did not check the workers’ passports. Somehow it never occurred to me.

This new module is somehow associated with the installation of sewerage systems.

Shower.

I am not sure the showers are very popular in the winter time; however in the summer I’m sure there are lines waiting outside to use them.
And these are modules of the workers themselves where they rest in between shifts. To sleep, they are transported home.

View of the construction site, rather on its uppermost part. Green Polyethylene is such a hothouse, inside of which is supported by the necessary technology temperature (I think it is 5 ° C). At temperatures such as this, it is impossible to work with regular concrete. The concrete used, of course, is stronger than its contemporaries and is intended for such conditions. I specifically asked about it: possible difficulties with concrete layering have been foreseen and taken care of.

One of the cooling towers.

Taking pictures inside the facility was prohibited. Inside the work was done by «Metrostroy", they claimed to have possessed some secret construction technologies. Pity, it was a beautiful thing.

They said environmentalists were against the building of this tower. When we went back, I drew attention to the CHP and several of the same towers near the entrance to the city. Because of the fog, you just cannot see half of the buildings. Near the city, I’ll add. The owners of that city are probably sick of the environmentalists as well.

Most interestingly, the first reactor block unit housing. There will be a total of two units, each with the capacity to generate 1,200 MW.

Almost anything can be seen in this photo is the inner metal housing. Below you can see concrete filling, and outside it will all be closed by another metal body that is in regulation with new security requirements. It protects the reactor from external influences and is designed to withstand an airplane falling on it with full tanks.

Anna, a representative of ATOMENERGOPROEKT, who organized our field trip.

We are ascending along the frame of the reactor block housing. This is very exciting for me. Soon there will be a real nuclear reactor inside!

The metal supporting rods are quite thick — about 6 or 7 cm in diameter.

That orange thing is used to supply the very special type of concrete for layering; inside you can see the supply hose. Polyethylene left stacked with the same goal: maintaining prescribed temperature technology. Besides that, the special strength of concrete and reinforced superstructure makes the design similar to the Ostankino tower and makes the design just as strained. Special supporting wire will be released inside.


A crane of unbelievable dimensions, a true beast. The tracks themselves are slightly higher than the average human and so are the wheels. It is composed on two sections, one on giant tracks and the other on wheels. It looks like a gigantic insect.

After a visit to the construction site we were invited to the Northern Construction Management in Pine Forest. There we were first of all, fed. Afterwards they called experts on the technology and talked some more about the project. I asked whether they had heard about the scandal with the virus STUXNET on the Iranian nuclear power program. They were aware, they said that they had all infected equipment immediately removed, but even in case the automation of the reactor itself it gradually extinguishes the reaction. Generally, of course, specialists that work on projects like this deserve utmost respect. I wish I was able to take their pictures.

Another one of the new and interesting technologies in this project was the so-called "meltdown trap". It is installed in the case of such theoretically impossible emergency. If suddenly the reactor temperature begins to rise uncontrollably, it will melt the reactor floor and the whole mass would fall into this trap, which is installed at the bottom of the reactor cavity. It is manufactured in such a way that must endure the extreme temperatures and extinguish the reaction. In the case of melting of some parts of the inner shell, more traps are formed, which should prevent the release of radioactive mass outside the trap.

Trap weighs over 800 tons and appears completely ordinary.

Well, NPP-2 this is goodbye. For now. I hope to see you again.

Instead of a conclusion:

After recently talking with some friends it turned out that not everyone understands why another nuclear power plant is needed. I think the question itself is indeed a stupid one: the city is developing; the region is growing and so is energy consumption. China, for example, builds power plants at some absolutely incredible pace. By the way not so long ago — Tianwan nuclear power plant was put into operation, built on a similar project by AEP (on it was first installed a similar meltdown trap). If this is not at all convincing, then here’s a surprise: the resource life of the existing NPP finishes in the 18th year and afterwards, it will be decommissioned.

Part of the materials were taken from the wiki, part of SPbAEP experts, kindly provided by press release.

Some technical details can be found in the wiki.

Sources:
http://www.dugwin.net/blog/00122.html
http://blogstroyka.rosato…lazami-blogera/ # more-2245

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