AREVA dismantles reactor pressure vessel successfully

News brief

The waterjet-cutting machineAREVA has successfully disassembled for the first time the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) of a commercially operated nuclear power station.

AREVA dismantling teams cut the 320-ton reactor pressure vessel into more than 250 individual parts.» The success of the project in Würgassen gives proof of the high level of professionalism with which AREVA is also involved in the dismantling business. This business field is an important component of our competency in the entire fuel cycle,” states Ulrich Gräber, management spokesman of AREVA in Germany. 

At the beginning of 2008, the operator E.ON Kernkraft GmbH charged AREVA with the dismantling of the RPV of the Würgassen nuclear power station with a power output of 670 megawatt. The preparations required an intensive planning of the complex technical and logistic processes. After the development of special tools for cutting the massive 15-meter high steel structure and for conveying the cut pieces to a packaging system, the AREVA staff set up the complete infrastructure.

When finished the decontamination the 250 parts and the release by the competent authorities, approximately half of the dismantled material can be melted and recycled. The second half will be packed in containers and prepared for the safe final disposal in the nuclear waste repository "Schacht Konrad".

The Wügassen nuclear power station was in operation from 1971 to 1994. Its decommissioning was decided in 1995. The dismantling started in 1997 and is to be completed by 2014.

AREVA has been involved in all fields of the dismantling of nuclear power stations for several years. The integrated handling of the reactor pressure vessel core components allows AREVA to perform all the works from the dismantling of the core equipment via the decontamination to a suitable packaging for the final disposal.