The third reactor at Russia's Rostov nuclear power plant was brought to the minimum controlled power level yesterday, moving it a step closer to starting commercial operation.

The loading of 163 fuel assemblies into the VVER-1000 pressurised water reactor was carried out between 14 and 19 November and hydrotesting of the primary and secondary reactor loops started on 25 November.

Rosenergoatom, the Rosatom subsidiary that operates all of Russia's civil nuclear power plants, said last month in a statement that construction and commissioning of the unit is ahead of schedule. Rosenergoatom said earlier this year the unit was scheduled to enter commercial operation by the end of 2014. Hot testing of the unit was completed on 24 October and additional pre-start due diligence work was conducted until 31 October.

Four 1000 MWe VVER pressurized water reactors have been planned at the Rostov site (formerly known as Volgodonsk) since the early 1980s. Construction of units 1 and 2 began promptly, but progress faltered. Units 1 and 2 eventually entered commercial operation in March 2001 and October 2010, respectively.

Source: World Nuclear News