China has approved the decommissioning plan for its first nuclear reactor - the Heavy Water Research Reactor (HWRR), which will be undertaken by the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE). CIAE received government approval of the plan on 4 November.The HWRR (Image: CIAE)
The CIAE said the decommissioning of the reactor will provide a "technical demonstration" for the decommissioning of other research reactors and will also provide technical support for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants. It will also consolidate the decommissioning expertise of China National Nuclear Corporation and the CIAE.
Decommissioning of the HWRR will be carried out in three phases. During the first phase, the supporting systems and workshops will be constructed and the site prepared for the reactor's decommissioning. Water will be drained from the reactor's used fuel storage pool, while decontamination and dismantling of three waste water storage tanks, a radiochemical laboratory and a radioisotope laboratory will be carried out. The cooling tower will also be dismantled.
In the second phase, decontamination and dismantling of four hot cells, the primary coolant and other systems will take place. Segmentation and packaging of large pieces of equipment and piping will also be carried out.
Dismantling of the internal components of the HWRR - including the graphite reflector and the core - will take place during the third and final phase. The ancillary systems will also be dismantled. This phase will end with the restoration of the reactor site.
Construction of the HWRR began in 1956 in a suburb of Beijing. It achieved first criticality in June 1958 and was permanently shut down by the end of 2007. As a replacement, a new research reactor - the China Advanced Research Reactor - with thermal power 60 MW, was constructed at CIAE and attained criticality in 2010.