Sosnovy Bor. The youngest city in the Northwest of Russia is located on the shores of the Gulf of Finland and 80 kilometres from St. Petersburg.
It is one of the most beautiful localities in the Leningrad Region with a greenery landscape, clean environment and eye-catching architecture, which is dwelled by a population of 68,000 people.
The city also hosts the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Russia in terms of installed capacity, which exceeds 4,300 MW. The first two units of the power plant have aged 50 years.
Such a beautiful, healthy and happening city beside the largest nuclear power plant, seems a bit surprising because some countries have kept cities away from nuclear power projects, fearing the risk of radiation.
The power plant and the city administration authorities said that they conduct multiple tests to monitor the nuclear radiation level in the atmosphere of the city.
Mikhail Voronkov, Head of Sosnovy Bor Urban District Administration, however, said there is no fear of radiation in his city because it is safe as in other cities where there is no nuclear power plant.
Speaking about how they ensure safety, Mikhail said that for the safety of the city and the country they have taken multi-level security measures. "There are multiparty radiation observation and monitoring systems that look after the level of radiation. Besides, as our neighbours, the Scandinavian countries also observe the level of radiation from our nuclear power plants on a regular basis," he said.
Radiation level displayed publicly
To eradicate the people's fear of radiation, the Sosnovy Bor City administration has the facility to display the radiation level in different spots of the city.
On 8 September, the radon level was 13Bq/m3 and 14Bq/m3 in two different spots of the city, which is within the World Health Organisation's permitted level.
As per the world health organisation's recommendation, the average outdoor radon level varies from 5 Bq/m3 to 15 Bq/m3. (Radon is a specific element that is known to produce radiation through radioactive decay, whereas radiation is a phenomenon that occurs in a variety of situations.)
Chigarev Sergey, Acting Chief Engineer of VVER-1200 units at Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant said that they have been operating the plant to maintain the best safety and security measures.
"As plant operators, we monitor the radiation. Besides, the local administration and independent third-party organisations are also monitoring the level regularly," he said.
Valentin Oleynik, Lead Engineer of the Environment Protection Department at the Rosenergoatom JSC said that all is constrained within the power plant's premises. There are no sources of any chemical emission from the power plant to the nearby water body.
There are different types of reactors operated simultaneously at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, like RBMK-1000 (high-power channel reactor) and VVER-1200 (generation III+ pressurized water reactor).
At present, the plant has four operating power units that include units 3 and 4 with RBMK-1000 and units 5 and 6 with VVER-1200.
The station covers more than 55% of the energy demand of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, said Vladimir Pereguda, Deputy Director at the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant.
In August 2022, preparatory work for the construction of Units 7 and 8 with VVER-1200 reactors, which are planned to be put into operation after 2030, began. They will become the replacement capacities for Units 3 and 4 with RBMK-1000.
Waste management system at Leningrad
Nuclear power plant waste or spent fuel management is a big concern for reactor operation countries.
There is a concern among the Bangladeshi people about the spent fuel management of the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant fuel management. Though, it has been said by the authorities that as per the contract Russia will take back the spent fuel.
Speaking on the waste management of the Leningrad nuclear plant, Vladimir Peregudas said that they store the spent fuel at the plant site for a short term. "But there is a specialised area where we permanently store or bury the fuel," he said.