"Nuclear education in Russia"

Atomic industry in Russia

Russian nuclear industry is one of the world’s leaders in terms of the level of scientific and technological developments in the area of reactor design, nuclear fuel, experience of nuclear power plant operation, NPP personnel qualification. Enterprises of the industry have accumulated huge experience in solving large-scale tasks — such as creating the world’s first nuclear power plant (1954) and developing fuel for it. Russia possesses world’s most advanced enrichment technologies, and nuclear power plants with VVER water-moderated water-cooled power reactors have proved their reliability in the course of one thousand reactor years of trouble-free operation. High quality of manufactured products and offered services is also confirmed by the successes in international tenders for nuclear fuel supplies and NPP construction abroad.

Today Russian nuclear industry constitutes a powerful complex of over 250 enterprises and organizations employing over 250 thousand people. Industry structure includes four large-scale research and production complexes: enterprises of nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear power engineering, nuclear weapons application, and research institutes. JSC Atomenergoprom, which consolidates the civilian part of the nuclear industry, is a part of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation. ROSATOM unites a number of enterprises of nuclear power engineering, as well as of nuclear and radiation safety, nuclear weapons complex, and fundamental research.

Currently, Russia is building new NPPs on a large scale. The construction is underway on sites of Novovoronezh NPP Phase II, Leningrad NPP Phase II, Baltic NPP, and the world’s first floating nuclear co-generation plant Akademic Lomonosov. One more power unit – the fourth reactor of Beloyarsk NPP – is under construction completion process. Nuclear power plants are being built abroad as well. These are Kudankulam (India), Bushehr (Iran), Akkuyu (Turkey), Ostrovets (Belarus), and Tianwan Phase II (China).

Under present conditions nuclear power engineering is one of the most important sectors of Russian economy. The industry’s dynamic development is one of the major conditions of ensuring energy independence of the state and sustainable growth of the country’s economy.

A high level of safety of the nuclear power plants under construction is rested on intrinsic safety of the reactor, several safety barriers, and multiple duplication of safety channels. In particular, the VVER reactor intrinsic safety means that if a neutron flux increases and excess steam is generated in the reactor, the steam emergence in itself leads to accelerated absorption of neutrons and termination of the chain reaction (this effect is called the negative coefficient of reactivity).

In addition, new Russian NPPs with water-water reactors (VVERs) are provided with water inventories to remove heat from the core, which by many times exceed regular amounts. First, water will be supplied from back-up tanks installed inside the power unit and then, if this amount is insufficient, water will be supplied from three additional reservoirs. It should be noted that all back-up pumps are powered from separate diesel generators, with diesels located in separate buildings. The emergency core cooling system (ECCS) includes also special boric acid tanks which are located above the reactor. In case of accident, contents of these tanks will get by gravity to the reactor core and the chain reaction will be terminated by a large amount of boron-containing substance, which is a good neutron absorber.\



The defense-in-depth principle assumes also availability of a safety concept which provides not only for features aimed at preventing accidents but also features to manage beyond design basis accident consequences, which ensure confinement of radioactive substances within the containment. Such features include hydrogen evacuation systems (with passive recombiners); overpressure protection of the primary circuit; heat removal through steam generators; heat removal from the containment and core melt trap. 

In addition, prevention of failures and violations of safe operation standards is ensured by selection of a safe site to host NPP, application of conservative design principles, quality assurance system employed during site selection, design, construction and operation, as well as by safety culture. Selection of a safe site assumes, in particular, determining a projected seismic impact which is calculated separately for each site and each power unit. For example, in the course of additional studies in a zone featuring 8 to 10 magnitude impacts, acceptable sites can be identified within 7 magnitude zone and homogeneous uniform granitoid rock mass far from epicenters of shallow-focus earthquakes. Such studies take account of a seismic impact from the safe shutdown earthquake (SSE) which may occur with a probability of once in 10,000 years (not more than magnitude 8). Basing on this projection, relevant calculations of building structures are carried out, and all pipelines and equipment are designed. If necessary, the equipment is fitted with hydraulic shock-absorbers. 

Lastly, availability of on-site civil defense and emergency forces and capabilities at each NPP makes a response to abnormal situations as quick as possible. These forces are maintaining constant alert and fitted with necessary equipment, including back-up power sources and pumps. Conventional fire trucks can be connected to any nuclear power units using special nozzles installed on reactor building walls on different sides of buildings to avoid their simultaneous damage. It is possible to supply unlimited amounts of the coolant through these nozzles, if it is lost in the reactor coolant system. 

There are special situation centers to manage crisis situations (for example, the Situation and Crisis Center of ROSATOM and similar facility in Rosenergoatom Concern), emergency measures are planned for, and related exercises are conducted on a regular basis. If necessary, such crisis centers will promptly coordinate their actions with EMERCOM of Russia and the Ministry of Energy of Russia. 

In terms of terrorist protection all operating NPPs are soundly guarded by the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Interior of Russia; the troops are adequately provided with ammunition, equipment and materiel. The security system is arranged so that any terrorist (adversary) will be detained at the security line. It is impossible to take prohibited items (firearms, munitions etc.) to the NPP territory, because all checkpoints are fitted with detection units, video surveillance systems and other equipment that excludes illegal acts.

The AES-2006 Design Safety Systems

The AES-2006 Design comprising two power units. Electric output of each power unit equipped with VVER-type reactor (water-moderated water-cooled power reactor) is determined as equal to 1194 MW, while heat output – 250 Gcal/h. Design lifetime is 50 years. Design lifetime of the equipment is 60 years.

This design project meets all current international safety requirements. It combines active (requiring human interference and a power source) and passive (not requiring operator’s actions and a power source) safety systems. In particular, it employs four active safety system channels which are mutually redundant, as well as a core melt trap, a system for passive heat removal from under containment and a system for passive heat removal through steam generators. All engineering solutions have been well-tested and are tested in the course of design, construction and commissioning program of Leningrad II NPP (phase one). Experts believe that after commissioning the serial NPP will be in line with the safest plants in the world.

The project of the reference nuclear power plant – for example, Leningrad II NPP (Phase One) – has passed all required governmental reviews; also the plant siting and operating licenses have been granted. The said review statements say the engineering solutions of the project meet requirements of the Russian regulations, requirements of EUR and IAEA as well as Customer’s requirements for AES-2006 project. Declared safety and economics parameters are supported by availability of reference facilities, licensability and proven construction technology.

Safety insurance

The design of modern Russian NPP meets all the up-to-date international requirements for safety. Four active redundant safety trains, core-catcher, Passive systems of heat removal (from containment and steam-generators) are used in the design. 

Declared safety and economic characteristics are guaranteed by reference, licensability and developed construction technology.

All the technical approaches have been tested and are being optimized in the process of design, construction and commissioning works. According to the experts, after its commissioning the ordinary Russian NPP will be one of the safest NPPs in the world. Besides, the design provides for at least 20 automated radiation monitoring posts within a radius of more that 10 km, and the acquired information will be available to any resident of the region.

Safety from external threats

Flight accidents

The NPP design provides a possibility of aircraft crash.

Hurricanes, waterspouts, tornados

Safety related components are designed with due regard for the wind load corresponding to wind velocity 30 m/s at a height of 10 m. Design loads are those induced by the whirlwind of class 3.60 according to Fujita scale.

Snow and ice loads

Peak (extreme) snow load according to design equals 4.1 kPa.

Seismic loads

The NPP is designed with allowance for the earthquake which maximum horizontal acceleration at ground level equals 0.25 g.

Outside explosions

The NPP safety-related components are designed with due account for the shock wave caused by outside explosion. The pressure at shock wave front is taken equal to 30 kPa, compression stage time – 1 s.


The NPP is designed with possible flooding taken into account.

Nuclear information centers are multifunctional communication grounds serving to advise the public on issues related to nuclear energy. The centers are opened under ROSATOM aegis in capitals of the regions which have nuclear facilities in operation or under construction. 

Each information center is a state-of-the-art multimedia theater combining panoramic 3-D projection, computer graphics and animation, stereo sound, interactive consoles and personal screens. All these technologies help visitors to plunge into virtual reality.

The Center’s basic product is 45 minute multimedia show “Nuclear Energy World” in virtual performance genre. The performance is universal, targeted at non-prepared audience – schoolchildren of 2-11 class, though the programs are of interest to adults as well. The show incorporates several interactive quiz blocks. Prizes given to quiz winners make the visit even more thrilling.

To support the information presented, the Centers hand out theme booklets, educational literature and souvenirs. 

Apart from the main program, there are also programs in astronomy, natural history and country studies in Russian and in English. In addition to regular performances, the Centers hold various dedicated events (conferences, workshops, exhibitions, etc.) attended by students, schoolchildren, teachers, journalists, public figures, representatives of authorities, and nuclear personnel. 

All demonstrations and events are free of charge for visitors. The Centers are open 6 days a week; Monday through Friday 9:00 - 19:00 (for groups up to 36 people, with preliminary appointment); Saturday 11:00 - 16:00 (group and individual visits without preliminary appointment).

The first center was established in Tomsk in November 2008. By the present time 16 information centers have been opened in Russia, which have been visited by more than 280,000 people. Their operations cover many regions of the country extending from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Kaliningrad and from Murmansk to Rostov-on-Don. In 2011 new centers were opened in six cities: Krasnoyarsk, Chelyabinsk, Saint-Petersburg, Ulyanovsk, Vladimir, and Smolensk. In 2012 the information centers geography expanded, i.e. in addition to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a center was inaugurated in Saratov. Also, first overseas centers started operating in Hanoi (Vietnam) and Mersin (Turkey). In 2013 it is planned to open information centers in Yekaterinburg, Minsk (Belarus), and Dhaka (Bangladesh).

Centers abroad:


Hanoi (Nuclear Information Center)Vietnam 

Hanoi, DaiCoViet Road, 1 (territory of Hanoi Technical University)

Tel.: +84-4-3623 1721

E-mail: thu.hamanh@hust.edu.vn


Mersin (Nuclear Information Center)

Turkey, Mersin, 33010, İsmet İnönü bulvarı, Kültür mah., Nakkaş apt. Blok A No: 134

Tel.: +90 324 2322234

Email: office@akkunpp.com


Centers in Russia Federation: 


Chelyabinsk (Nuclear Information Center)

454091, Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsky Prospect, 59

Tel.: 8-912 406 30 77, 8-904 30 25 123

E-mail: chelyabinsk@myatom.ru


Kaliningrad (Nuclear Information Center)

Kaliningrad, Naberezhnaya Petra Velikogo, 1

(building of the World Ocean Museum)


Krasnoyarsk (Nuclear Information Center)

660060, Krasnoyarsk, Ul. A. Lebedyevoy, 78

Tel.: 8-913-518-18-62

E-mail: krasnoyarsk@myatom.ru


Moscow (Nuclear energy class based on Lyceum № 1547)


Moscow, Belorechenskaya ul., 47, bldg 1.

Tel/Fax: (495) 345-29-72,

E-mail: info@licey1547.msm.ru 


Murmansk (Nuclear Information Center)

Murmansk, Portovy proyezd, 25, 'Lenin' Nuclear Icebreaker

Tel.: +7 8152 48-05-44 

E-mail: murmansk@myatom.ru


Nizhny Novgorod (Nuclear Information Center)

603005, Nizhny Novgorod, Ul. Semashko, 7b

Теl: (831) 419-39-19

Теl/Fax: (831) 436-19-73

E-mail: nnovgorod@myatom.ru


Novosibirsk (Nuclear Information Center)

630001, Novosibirsk, Ul. D. Kovalshuk, 67

Tel/Fax: (383) 225-51-79

E-mail: novosibirsk@myatom.ru


Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Leningradskaya Str., 35

Tel.: (4152) 300-181; 300-180

E-mail: petropavlovsk@myatom.ru


Rostov-on-Don (Nuclear Information Center)

Rostov-on-Don, Ploshchad Gagarina, 1

(Don State Technical University, building 4, 2nd floor)


Saratov (Nuclear Information Center)

Saratov, Moskovskaya Str., 164

E-mail: saratov@myatom.ru.


Smolensk (Nuclear Information Center)

Przhevalskogo Str., 4 (Smolensk State University, building No 1)

Tel: +7-951-6964528   


St. Petersburg (Nuclear Information Center)


St. Petersburg, Zagorodny prosp., 49

Tel./fax: (812) 710-16-56

E-mail: spb@myatom.ru


Tomsk (Nuclear Information Center)

Tomsk, Ploshchad Lenina, 8А

Tel/Fax: (3822) 51-7973

E-mail: tomsk@rosatom.info


Vladimir (Nuclear Information Center)

Vladimir, Oktyabrsky prospekt, 3

Tel.: +7 (4922) 32-53-83

E-mail: vladimir@myatom.ru


Voronezh (Nuclear Information Center)

Voronezh, Rabochiy prospekt, 100

Tel/Fax: (4732) 34 36 33, (4732) 34 36 59

E-mail: vrn@rosatom.info


Ulyanovsk (Nuclear Information Center)

Ulyanovsk, Krimova Str., 67

Tel.: +7 8422 277 856

E-mail: ulyanovsk@myatom.ru


Yekaterinburg (Nuclear Information Center)

Yekaterinburg, 8 March Str., (building of Ural Polytechnic University

Tel.: +7 (343) 221-27-30

Email: ekb@myatom.ru

Russian research into nuclear physics goes back to 1918 when a special office (Department Number One) was set up with the Academy of Sciences Committee for natural and production resources.  The new department was to organize exploration of rare and radioactive materials. Two years later – in 1920 an atomic committee met for the first session that was attended by several outstanding scientists, including famous physicist Abram Ioffe.  The next year, the State Scientific Council with Commissariat (ministry) of Education founded Radium laboratory (later Radium Institute) under the Academy of Sciences, and put Vitaly Khlopyn at its head.

The first Soviet conference on nuclear physics was held in Leningrad in 1933. It gave a strong impetus to further investigations. A year later, Alexander Brodsky produced the first heavy water in the USSR. In 1935, Igor Kurchatov and his team discovered nuclear isomerism. Within two years, the first accelerated proton beam was produced at Radium Institute cyclotron, the only one in Europe at that time.  In 1939, Yakov Zeldovich, Yuly Khariton and Alexander Leipunsky proved feasibility of uranium fission chain reaction. On September 28, 1940, the Presidium of the Soviet Academy of Sciences approved the program of the first Soviet uranium project. 

In the midst of World War II, the State Defense Committee decided to resume the nuclear physics studies suspended because of the war.  Secret government order № 2352ss on organizing uranium-related activities was signed on August 28, 1942.  The Academy of Sciences was instructed to ‘continue studies into the feasibility of using the nuclear energy produced as a result of splitting uranium nucleus and report by April 1, 1943 on the possibility of creating a uranium bomb or uranium fuel’.

An ad hoc committee was set up to take an overall charge of uranium mining and A-bomb development. On April 12, 1943, Instrumentation Laboratory No. 2 (currently known as Russian Research Center Kurchatov Institute) was established with the Academy of Sciences. In February 1943, the State Defense Committee issued order № 2872ss  to move the Laboratory to Moscow and appoint Professor Igor Kurchatov as the scientific leader of all uranium research. The routine management of this work was vested to Mikhail Pervukhin, Deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, and to Sergey Kaftanov, the State Defense Committee Commissioner for Science. Vyatcheslav Molotov, the First Deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, deputy chairman of the State Defense Committee, looked after uranium activities on behalf of Soviet leaders. 

The activities performed at that time included review of the prospecting and geological survey data, investigations into uranium fission physics and isotope separation, studies on radiochemistry and uranium metallurgy. In 1944, Igor Kurchatov obtained, for the first time, a detectable amount of plutonium at cyclotron M-1, which allowed studying chemical properties of this element. At the same time, Department Number Nine was set up at the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) to superintend uranium mining and processing.  Yet, that was the war time and every effort went to the front, so the attention given to uranium venture was insufficient.

The nuclear bomb tests conducted by the USA in July 1945 changed the status quo. The Soviet leaders were set to mobilize the nation to meet the new challenge.  By its order № 9887ss of August 20, 1945, the State Defense Committee established a special committee that included statesmen and prominent physicists. The top-level oversight of the activities was transferred from V. Molotov to Lavrentiy Beria. First General Directorate (PGU) was set up with the Council of People’s Commissars to steer organizations and facilities involved in the studies on the intra-atomic energy of uranium and A-bomb production. Boris Vannikov who headed the new Directorate was in fact the first leader of the Soviet nuclear industry.

The First General Directorate took over from the People’s Commissariat of Ammunition Plant No. 12 (currently Mashinostroitelny Zavod in Electrostal, Moscow region - MSZ) which re-directed its operations to uranium ore and concentrate processing. Later, the Directorate took Plant No. 48 (now Moscow machine engineering plant Molniya), Moscow mechanical institute of ammunition (now Moscow Physics and Engineering Institute) and several other enterprises.

Thanks to the painstaking effort of scientists the work was progressing fast. In 1946, the scientists led by Igor Kurchatov attained self-sustained uranium chain reaction for the first time in Eurasia. Two years later, this achievement was translated into commissioning of the first 100 MW production Reactor A.  It was put into operation at industrial facility № 817 (now PA Mayak in Ozersk, Chelyabinsk Region).

The first Soviet nuclear charge (RDS-1) was successfully tested in Semipalatinsk on August 9, 1949.  Thus, the four-year heroic effort of Soviet scientists and engineers allowed the Soviet Union to come on a par with the United States of America.

In 1953, the Special Committee, the First, Second and Third General Directorates were reorganized into the Ministry of Medium Machine Engineering (Minsredmash or Sredmash) with Vyatcheslav Malyshev as Minister, who also chaired the State Commission for the first domestic testing of an H-bomb (RDS-6s), which was conducted in Semipalatinsk in 1953.

The successful development and testing of the nuclear weapons opened the door to the civil nuclear power. The world’s first nuclear power plant was put into operation in Obninsk (near Moscow) in 1954. The plant – a 5 MW uranium-graphite pressure-tube reactor AM cooled by water – was built under Igor Kurchatov’s leadership. The reactor got its name AM from the abbreviation of Russian words meaning ‘peaceful atom’. The core design concepts belonged to Kurchatov; chief designer was Academician Nikolai Dollezhal. 

In June 1955, Igor Kurchatov and Anatoly Alexandrov headed development of the Soviet nuclear power program.  The program was aimed at the large-scale use of atomic energy for electricity generation, transport and other civil applications.  The world’s first fast neutron zero power reactor BR-1 was put in operation in 1955, and a year later another fast neutron reactor – a 100 kW BR-2 started operation. The key nuclear institutions were set up at that time, including Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (Moscow), Joined Institute of Nuclear Research (Dubna), Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (Obninsk), Research Institute of Inorganic Materials (Moscow). 

The Kurchatov Institute provided the scientific guidance and support for construction of the first nuclear submarine (Project К-3, in 1957) and development of a new shipbuilding line – nuclear icebreakers which provided year-round navigation in the northern seas. The first nuclear-propelled icebreaker Lenin was launched in 1959. 

Construction of nuclear power units was going at a brisk pace. The first 210 MW unit was put on line at Novovoronezh NPP in 1964. The world’s first fast power reactor BN-350 was commissioned in Shevchenko (now Aktau in Kazakhstan) in 1973. A year later, the first 1000-MW RBMK reactor was put in operation at the Leningrad NPP.  Extensive construction of large NPPs was deployed in the Eastern Europe.  

A serious accident that occurred at the Chernobyl plant in April 1986 all but stopped nuclear power advancement. Soviet and global nuclear power went into deep recession in the 1990s, falling into stagnation. In late January 1992 the Russian part of the former Soviet Ministry of Atomic Energy and Industry (the successor to the Ministry of Medium Machine Engineering) was transformed into the RF Ministry for Atomic Energy. The new Russian Ministry headed by Viktor Mikhailov inherited approximately 80% of the enterprises and 28 nuclear power units at 9 sites. 

It was the time when the industry had to restore the economic and production links broken during the recession, build new manufacturing plants to replace the facilities lost to Russia, adapt to the new internal and external economic conditions. The work was centered on top-priority lines, and allocations were optimized to support principal activities. Owing to this, the industry survived the hard times and managed to keep its potential and human resources. 

The first unit of Rostov NPP was brought to criticality in February 2001. In March 2004, the Russian President issued order №314 to establish the Federal Atomic Energy Agency. The first head of the Agency was Alexander Rumyantsev, and on November 2005 this position came over to Sergey Kirienko.  

New ambitious goals were set for the Federal Agency. On October 6, 2006, the Russian Government passed order № 605 to approve the federal program on the Development of Nuclear Power and Industry Complex of Russia in 2007-2010 and until 2015, according to which 26 new nuclear power units are to be commissioned in the country before 2020. 

The Presidential order established State Atomic Energy Corporation "Rosatom" (shortly ROSATOM) in December of 2007. On March 26, 2008 the Corporation took over the functions and authorities of the abolished Federal Atomic Energy Agency. Sergey Kirienko was appointed the Director General of the new Corporation. In August 2008, the federal state unitary enterprise (FSUE) Atomflot (in charge of nuclear-propelled fleet and support ships) was transferred to ROSATOM. 

ROSATOM implements Government policy, provides integrated control over the use of atomic energy, ensures stable operation of civil and defense nuclear facilities, takes care of nuclear and radiation safety. It is also responsible for fulfilling the international commitments of Russia on the peaceful use of atomic energy and non-proliferation. ROSATOM is called for to facilitate the effective implementation of the federal target program for nuclear industry development, create new environment in support of this development and strengthen the country’s competitiveness on the global market of nuclear technology.