Chernobyl NPP – history

The history of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant construction

The world’s first nuclear power plant for experimental-industrial usage began operations in the city of Obninsk (Kaluga reg.) on July 27, 1954.

Ukraine, as part of the former Soviet Union, had great scientific potential and made a significant contribution to the development of atomic energy.

According to the Decision of the Council of Ministers of the USSR from 29.09.1966, a plan for the construction of Power Plants in the USSR (for the period 1966-1977) with a total capacity of 11.9 million kWt. was approved.Also planned for that time period was the construction of new nuclear power plants with RBMK-1000 type reactors, with a total capacity of 8 million kWt.

It was decided to build one of these nuclear power plants in central Ukraine. It should be noted that the scientific leader of the RBMK-1000 project was appointed by the Institute of Atomic Energy. Kurchatov was the principal designer – Institute of Power Research and Development for the Ministry of Medium Machine Building of the USSR, Minsredmash.

Already on February 2, 1967, appeared a classified “secret” document, “Appeal of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine on the coordination of the civil-engineering design of the Central Ukrainian Power Plant near the village of Kopaci in the Chernobyl area of the Kiev region”.

In appendices to this document are outlined the rationale for the choice of this particular location for construction: “The site near Kopachi on the right bank of the Pripyat River, 12 km from the town of Chernobyl, is mainly unproductive lands that comply with the requirements of a water supply, transport, and a sanitary zone.”

It is known that the identification of the Chernobyl area site, was preceded by the analysis of conditions at 16 separate sites in the Kiev, Vinnitsa and Zhitomir regions. The site near the village of Kopachi was determined to be the best.

Constructioin of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant began in 1970 by the Ministry Uzatomenergostroy Minenergo USSR. In May of this year, work began on the excavation of a foundation ditch for the first power unit. Simultaneous with the building of the Power Plant was construction of a new city of energy, Pripyat – the satellite of the station.

The master plan of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

The master plan of the Chernobyl Power Plant, dated 1971 (original)

It took seven years to construct and start up the first block of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. They were years of hard work for the builders because of significant problems with the supply of materials and equipment. The first block became operational in September 1977, the second – January 1979, the third and fourth – in 1981 and 1983 respectively.

Below is a scheme of “Cut of the main building of RBMK-1000 Nuclear Power Plants.

Detail scheme of Chernobyl NPP

Graphic scheme “Cut to the main building of RBMK-1000 Nuclear Power Plants

You can learn about how the construction of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant looked with the help of photographs located below. These photos are copies from the booklet “New city on the map of Ukraine. The photostory about the young city of Pripyat in the Kiev area of the Ukrainian SSR,” which as published by the Mistyetstvo Publishers (Kiev) in 1976. The materials are prepared for publication on the website “The Chernobyl Exclution Zone” – by Sergiy Nehaevym.

Photo archive of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant construction


Construction of the foundations of ChNPP


Mounting a seating ring for ChNPP

Construction of the foundations of the future nuclear power plant
Mounting a seating ring for the nuclear reactor

ounting of the communications of ChNPP


Construction base of the ChNPP

ounting of the communications station
Construction base of the Chernobyl NPP. Concrete plant with prefabricated reinforced concrete.

Mounting fixtures reinforced the protection of the reactor ChNPP


Mounting the protection of the reactor

Mounting fixtures reinforced the protection of the reactor
Mounting fixtures reinforced the protection of the reactor

Mounting elements in the reactor


Brigade of ChNPP assemblers

Mounting elements in the reactor core
Brigade of assemblers under the direction of Alexey Ryazanov

Information about the authors and publisher

Information about the authors and publisher of the presented photos

It should be noted that long before the start up of the last power units was the idea of constructing the fifth and sixth blocks of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. In 1981, construction and installation work began, and the start up of the fifth power unit was planned for January 1986.

Chronology of key events during the construction and commissioning of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

Event Date
First cubic meter of the concrete foundation was laid for the main building of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
W. Scherbitsky appealed to the President of the Council of Ministers
of the USSR, A.M. Kosygin, with the request for construction equipment for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
April 30, 1975
On the orders of the Direct of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, commission was set up to prepare and launch the first unit of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Work schedules were organized around-the-clock
on the critical start up unit
May 16, 1975
Filling of the cooling water reservoir for the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant begins October 1976
Work begins to launch the first power-up of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant May 1977
Completion of the first loading of fuel assemblies into the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant reactor August 1, 1977
Approval of the act accepting into operation the first unit of the Chernobyl NPP December 14, 1977
Design capacity output (1000 MW) is achieved by the first unit of the Chernobyl NPP May 24, 1978
Operations begin for the second unit of the Chernobyl NPP January 10, 1979
The Chernobyl Atomic Power Station reaches its first 10 billion kilowatt-hours of electical output April 22, 1979
The Chernobyl Atomic Power Station reaches 100 billion kilowatt-hours of electrical output August 21, 1984

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