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ChNPP, Areva NP terminate contract for spent fuel storage facility

ChNPP, Areva NP terminate contract for spent fuel storage facility.

Termination of a 1999 spent fuel storage facility contract between Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and Framatome (now Areva NP) became effective April 23 in a formal exchange between the parties at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EBRD, in London.

The EBRD's Nuclear Safety Department administers the international fund financing decommissioning work at the Chernobyl site, of which the so-called ISF-2 storage facility represents the largest single project.

Areva NP's Joel Pijselman said April 24 that the contract was officially terminated during a ceremony at which Areva was released from the contract and state-owned management company ChNPP returned the performance bonds the French company had provided as financial guarantees. Areva now has no further contractual involvement with the project, said Pijselman, senior executive vice president responsible for nuclear services.

However, an EBRD source said that under the "amicable settlement" reached between the parties, Areva had agreed to cooperate in providing information to Holtec International under a new contract now under negotiation for the American company to take over the spent fuel storage facility work.

Following problems encountered in licensing the original Framatome storage facility, Framatome stopped work on the project. The original facility was based on the French company's Nuhoms technology and its design was based on incomplete information about the Chernobyl spent fuel.

In March 2006, Holtec submitted to ChNPP a feasibility study for drying the part of the spent fuel that contained water. In November successful testing of the drying facility model was conducted by Holtec. In December, the company submitted to the EBRD Donors Assembly a proposal for completing the spent fuel storage project using its technology, with a schedule of 52 months.

That proposal was assessed by the EBRD's Safety Review Group which, according to ChNPP, recommended that the donors continue funding the project with Holtec as the main contractor.

Based on these recommendations, the EBRD assembly decided to conduct an audit of the Holtec proposal. The audit is to serve a basis for a decision on an eventual contract.

The EBRD source said that the Holtec contract "is in the final stages of discussion" with the bank, ChNPP and the EBRD's Project Management Unit at the site, and will be presented to the donors for a decision as soon as possible. If all goes well, he said this week, the contract should be concluded by this fall. Pijselman said that it appeared from assessments to date that the structures built by Framatome/Areva NP were "of a high quality and can be utilized" with the Holtec technology.

He declined to specify the terms of the termination agreement, saying the parties had agreed to maintain their confidentiality. The EBRD source said there had been "adjustments" to the contract but also declined to provide more specific information.

- Ann MacLachlan, Paris; Alexei Breus, Kiev.

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platts.com

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