At the construction site of Leningrad Phase II unit 1, the 327-tonne reactor pressure vessel was positioned this week using a new technique in the Russian industry. Instead of bringing the component in horizontally through an equipment hatch in the reactor building wall, contractor Titan-2 opted for a new 'open' method of installation. This saw a crawler crane lift the RPV and lower it into place through the still-open roof of the reactor building. It had to pass between the beams of the polar crane with just centimetres to spare on either side.
Yuri Galanchuk, head of the Leningrad Phase II project, said this technique "considerably simplifies the installation of the reactor vessel and reduces risks by reducing the number of operations from eight to three." The crawler crane can also operate more accurately than the plant's own polar crane could, "ensuring the accuracy and quality of installation," said Galanchuk, adding that some thought will now be given to optimising this new lifting process.
Leningrad Phase II is a new nuclear power plant adjacent to the existing Leningrad nuclear plant site. Two AES-2006 design nuclear units are being built, which should begin operation in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
Leningrad II is the second of Russia's new AES-2006 nuclear power plants using VVER-1200 reactors. The first is Novovoronezh II, which employs a slightly different reactor model of the VVER-1200 from Leningrad II. The reactor vessel at Novovoronezh Phase II unit 1 was installed horizontally through an equipment hatch.