At the Nuclear Power Plant

Russian nuclear power plant

One Russian blogger has paid a visit to the modern Russian nuclear plant. Normally it is forbidden to take photos there, but they have made an exception for him. So now we have a rare chance to see what’s inside of the Russian most modern power plant.

This power plant is situated near Smolensk city. Its power generation potential is 3 Megawatt and it was build for 8 years, from 1982 to 1990. There were planned to be four nuclear reactors, but because of the panic after the Chernobyl accident the forth block has not been completed, so there are three of them for now.

Let’s go inside.

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In Russia there are now 10 active power plants. This one produces 1/7 of the overral electricity outcome of Russian nuclear powerplants, so it is a big one.

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Because this powerplant was completed after the Chernobyl, they paid a special attention to secure it from alike accidents. There is even a saying that “The sci-fi writers are on the second place by richness of imagination, the first place is occupied by the nuclear plant security engineers”, meaning that they need to make it safe just for some unimaginable events that not very likely to happen, but still the security system should be ready for them.

The outside structure that secures reactors themselves can stand the blast that exceeds ten times the power of atomic bomb blast, just imagine.

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There is a 30km (18 miles) security zone around the plant itself. It’s literary filled with all sorts of sensors and monitoring devices that measure the condition of the environment and should report any smallest deviation from normal radiation doses. There is also a water pound, the normal thing on such an object, that stores strategic reserve of water, which is said to be very clean and is fishing there is the big dream for every local – it doesn’t freezes in winter and has plenty of different fish species.

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The entrance to the station has a few protection levels, including palm scan, checking weight (it shouldn’t) differ from the number on profile.

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Everyone should be dressed into uniform.

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Everyone gets personal radiation checker.

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The turbines.

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The main reactor hall, the reactor itself is in the concrete reactor cavity

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The nuclear fuel used is Uranium255

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It is placed in those green tubes.

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One can see the blue glow at 2.5 meteres (8 feet) deep. It is because of Cerenkov effect “electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle (such as an electron) passes through an insulator at a speed greater than the speed of light in that medium”.

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The main control point.

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That’s it!

photo credit: Ilya Varlamov

87 thoughts on “At the Nuclear Power Plant”

    • The poor russian people still use gauges and dials that look like they are from the 1960’s in their most modern power plants. American power plants are operated remotely by workers that telecommute. Russia didn’t learn anything from chernoble and they’re still putting their people in harms way by making them work inside their dangerous nuclear power plants. Sad really. 🙁

      • Miss India is just a troll with a funny gimmick (IMO).
        As for all the gauges and controls, I love these sort of things, especially from the 60s-80s. The last 12 or so pictures made me want to cum

      • A lot of electrical equipment will carry on working in high levels of radiation where electronic equipment would fail. The Americans laughed at Russian fighter planes still having valve radios, until they found that the Electro Magnetic Pulse from a nuclear explosion completely zapped their solid-state radios.

  1. Are you sure about the potential? Only 3 MegaWatts? It seems not too much.. (In Hungary 1 reactor creating 450-500 Megawatts.)

    BTW, good collection of pictures. It’s good to see that there are places which are working and looking well. As I see this is the same construction like Tschernobyl was, is it?

  2. it’s most likely it can produce 3 gigawatts in total – not 3 megawatts.

    something mentioned travelling faster than the speed of light? nothing can do that.

    • The speed of light is variable based on the medium that it is traveling through, like the speed of sound. It is slightly different in water (probably the case in the above photo) then it is through a vacuum (c). The wikipedia article liked to is useful. It states that the speed of light in water is approximately 3/4 the speed of light in a vacuum.

      • There is a difference between the speed at which light moves and the speed of light. You are refering to the spped at which light moves. The speed of light is defined only for vacuum.

        Kind of like max speed for a car always stays the same but can’t be achieved on a steep uphill.

        And based on the current theories nothing can move faster than light in vacuum.

      • Actually modern physics doesn’t say anything about something moving “faster” then the speed of light. It states that it requires an infinite amount of energy to accelerate a particle beyond the speed of light.

        Very careful distinction needs to be made. Because it is theoretically possible that a particle can be traveling faster then the speed of light if the particle was ALREADY traveling that speed when it was created (tachyon’s for example). Also things at the quantum level act differently then observed experiments at the atomic level would lead us to believe.

    • Nothing can do that in vacuum (where is light speed at maximum)…Particles can travel through some medium faster than light speed in that medium, but not faster than light speed in the vacuum.

      P.S. Uranium 235 (not 255).

    • Come on man give me a break,I know everything there is to know about a nuclear reactor!

      I did spell nuclear correctly right?

  3. The next to last shot reminds the Minesweeper screen 🙂

    Very impressive and it seems to be in nice order but I don’t believe that authorities let the camera see everything… Too many tided up things don’t match to the russian customs. I hope this time I’m wrong but we never know.

  4. Someday I will remember to purchase a plug adapter so I can use my electric shaver in Russia.

    It works with the Russian voltage but the prongs on the plug are not small or round enough to fit in the wall socket!

  5. (“Bows to the Ruskies”)

    Nice Plant! Clean and appears to be well maintained. And as for analog gauge, being a former plant operator and maintenance person myself I can tell you that anybody can fix and calibrate them which is safer than non. Then, when your nuke certified gauge comes in, you change it. All of this and people relate better to a dial, i.e. this is the reason why there are LCD dial gauge inserts to replace digital read outs. 😀


    • Yes, I am always impressed with the power of Soviet/Russian reactors. In Yugoslavia we had only one nuclear power plant, it was built by Westinghouse, started operating in mid ’80s, and had the total power of some 350 MW (NE Krško, It is located in Slovenia, near the border with Croatia, and it is still working. I really do not know why somebody bothered to build a NPP (with all the associated risks), for such small power.

  6. Yeah, they still run RBMKs. They’ve changed a bunch of things so that the reactors are more safely operated.

    After Chernobyl, they increased the fissile content of the fuel so that they can get critical with fewer control rods out (which sounds bad, but…) and more negative temperature reactivity coefficient.

    I suspect they’ve also changed the control rod design so they don’t have graphite tips anymore. Those tips were there before to reduce neutron leakage when a control rod was pulled out. The problem is that when the graphite tip is in the middle of the core, during rod insertion, you get MORE reactivity. When the Chernobyl operators tried to save it by dropping all the rods in, they got a little extra reactivity, and the reactor blew when all those rods were halfway down.

    An operating reactor makes and burns up lots of Xenon, which is a strong neutron poison. When you quickly shut down a reactor, you end up with a lot of Xenon in the thing which makes it very touchy to start back up. The safer thing to do is wait a day for the Xenon to decay away. Chernobyl blew when a manager told the operator to start it back up immediately by pulling out lots of control rods to overcome the negative reactivity of the Xenon. When they got to criticality, the fission power ramped up and the reactor burned all its Xenon, and the reactivity shot up. They got a huge power surge and boom.

    My guess is that if a manager ever tells an RBMK operator to pull lots of rods out in order to start a Xenon poisoned reactor, the operators will probably have the guards beat him senseless.

    • As with three mile island here in the states, the number one cause of the accident was human intervention ordered by the on duty “political” officer (These political officers are a topic all within themselves). If the automation both plants were allowed to do their thing, there would be two more nice sweet cranking out the watts. The you ask why there such a mess at chernobyl? Simple: containment structure.

      Western reactor structure, especially the french ones, are deliberately built for such catastrophes. 3MI’s containment still glows blue on the inside, he he, but not on the outside. Chernobyl, can we say,”Sheet Metal” campers? That is correct. The garage my dads trucking company has is better built than most old soviet containment structures.

      But most importantly, it looks like the Russians are picking up baton and running with this situation and taking corrective action to make sure that politics does not interfere with good science. I think they will do alright. Remember, the worlds greatest scientist and engineers come from Russian and if you do not believe me, just remember they fought the cold war with pencil and paper, not fancy dancy software.

      Good work fellas.


      • There is no such thing as a “Soviet Containment Structure”. They never built them because “Disasters can’t and won’t happen.” This design is almost an exact copy of Chernobyl. The Chernobyl disaster would have been much less serious had there been a containment structure in place.

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  14. wow they are cool, i love all the dials, makes for a really great photo! the tubby guy at the control desk is a bit like homer simpson!

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    • “speed greater than the speed of light in that medium”. The affirmation is correct, is not talking about the absolute speed of light, measured in the vacuum. Is the speed of light in the water. As explained on comment #5.

  16. The plant is not near the Smolensk. The city is 100 kilometers away from the NPS. The station is placed at the city of Kurchatov in the Oblast Smolensk. The power station have after Leningrad 1 and 2 the best updated RBMK-1000, you see on picture 26 the unit 3 of the plant, the last RBMK where go into operation after the chernobyl accident. But the Leningrad-Units are better, they have LCD-Panels ans newer upgraded systems based on the MKER-1000-Design.

  17. the scales are creepy. can anyone read or tip the right ‘gizmos’ in a state of increasing panic in an emergency?

  18. Outstanding photo tour of a modern RBMK-1000 power plant! I’m jealous of the guy who got to get a tour of this thing, with a camera no less.

    Nice to see photos of feedwater pumps, main circulation pumps, glowing spent fuel in the storage pits, and the modernized control room. The last photo, of the steam supply system being monitored on the computer, is especially interesting. You can see that this is Unit 2, operating with a power of 3185 MWt, with the usual three of four MCPs on each side in operation. The display shows the water level in the drum separators (“BS”), the pressure there (about 70 kg / m^2), and other parameters. The preceding photo shows what appears to be a longitudinal neutron flux plot in the lower right corner, and a means of examining data from in-core instrumentation in various channels. The word “SKALA” appears in these screens, implying perhaps that the old computer data aquisition system (with ferrite memory and magnetic tape!) is still in use at SAES in addition to the obviously more modern systems.

    Great photos.

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  20. I wonder what would happen if you would let in Dee Dee into main control room….

    uhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. buttttooooooooonnnnnnnsssssssss………..

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  22. I am working on this nuclear power plant. Employee on repair and maintenance of measuring instruments. I live at a distance of 3 km in the city. In the beautiful town Desnogorsk. Population is 32000 people. He is very young, only 35 years old. We are surrounded by beautiful nature. Sometimes I meet on the streets hedgehogs, apportionment of elk and calf in the morning saw a woodpecker on a tree. Cooling pond of the total area of 42 square kilometers of the employee to remove heat from the turbine condensers. Gets warm in summer to 30-32 degrees Celsius, higher than the ambient temperature, and water does not freeze in winter.
    We also distinguishes better living conditions than for example the people of the Far East. winter during the heating season, they have difficulties with fuel for the boiler. Since we have nuclear power boiler, we have a stable hot heat each winter.


  23. “passes through an insulator at a speed greater than the speed of light” … Yes sure… there are no greatest speed than the light speed! lol

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  27. i love russian teknology
    i vould love to take a bath in the lake sems
    to be nice temperature because of the coling exhaust water
    from the reactors i live in norway and the waters here
    are cold

  28. I believe in russian nuclear peaceful technology
    is reliable,and compeytant
    pramod deshpande
    senior scientific officer and engg
    atomic energy dept india
    vecc 1/af salt lake calcutta700064

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  30. And those fukcs want to build NPP of this kind in my beautiful country – Bulgaria.
    Never ever ever.
    Alkash dimwits


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