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You're reading: US moves in on Russia’s nuclear energy turf in Ukraine
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Russia has been the long-time monopoly supplier of nuclear fuel to Ukraine where roughly half the electricity is generated by nuclear power plants. TVEL, the Russian supplier, saw a challenger in 2011, when Westinghouse Electric Company was contracted by Energoatom to provide fuel to three of the country’s 15 reactors over five years in a deal experts say was worth over $100 million.

The Southern Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant (SUNPP) was using the Westinghouse TVS-W type fuel rod in tandem with Russian TVEL rods. However, according to Westinghouse, as reported by Kyiv Post on July 4, 2013, the Russian rods damaged the American ones during operations because the Russian rods’ “fuel bow” exceeded the technical norm. In other words, they were moving around too much and would repeatedly strike the neighboring American rods.

After a flurry of accusations, Westinghouse agreed to modify their rods for Ukrainian use, so that by April 4 the company could announce that it should resume the Energoatom contract. In early May, Westinghouse plans to complete the entire cycle test of modified TVS-W rods, followed by Energoatom tests.  Today, SUNPP uses 66 Westinghouse TVS-W type nuclear fuel rods and 97 Russian TVEL rods.

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