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EBRD: Cernavoda - Tritium Removal Facility

Project Description

Senior unsecured corporate loan of up to EUR 150 million to S.N. Nuclearelectrica S.A. to finance the construction of a tritium removal facility (the Project).

Project Objectives

Nuclearelectrica operates two CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium) units at its Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant (Cernavoda NPP): Unit 1 commissioned in 1996 and Unit 2 commissioned in 2007. CANDU type reactors, of which these are the only examples operating in Europe, use heavy water (deuterium oxide) as a moderator and coolant. Over time the radioactive hydrogen isotope tritium accumulates in the heavy water.


By now Cernavoda NPP has accumulated high volumes of such radioactive, tritiated water in its reactors.  Removal of the tritium and placing it in safe, long-term storage, is an essential part of the decommissioning process.  The alternative to this treatment is to store large volumes of highly radioactive water in tanks on-site for many decades. This would be very costly and entail potential environmental risks.


The proposed construction of a tritium removal facility (TRF) at Cernavoda NPP will extract tritium from the tritiated heavy water. The process will result in stable, non-radioactive heavy water, and a very small volume of concentrated tritium.  The concentrated tritium can then more easily be stored to ensure its containment according to the applicable nuclear safety regulations. In addition, the processed heavy water can be reused as moderator and coolant, saving energy for the production of new heavy water.


The Project will focus on environmental improvement. This entails the following: i) the management of radioactive waste by reducing the amount of radioactive material and avoiding the hazards of storing it in large containers on site; ii) improvement of operational safety by reducing exposure to radiation for the staff working in the plant; and iii) ensuring compliance with the applicable regulations.

Transition Impact

ETI score: 60


1) Improving health and safety standards: The Project will result in safer management of radioactively contaminated moderator and coolant by reducing the amount of radioactive material, avoiding the hazards of transporting it over long distances and storing it in large tanks on site. As a result, exposure of the staff to radiation doses will be reduced and the operational safety of the plant improved.

2) Water savings: The tritium removal process of the facility will enable recycling of treated heavy water. Nuclearelectrica buys on average 10 tons of new heavy water per year, which will be saved by using the facility.

3) Energy consumption savings: The estimated energy consumption in the tritium removal process is approximately 5% of the energy consumption for equivalent amount of new heavy water production.


Client Information


Nuclearelectrica is the Romanian state-owned nuclear power company operating the 1,412 MW Cernavoda nuclear power plant. The company is listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, and 82.5% of its shares are owned by the Romanian Government via the Ministry of Energy.

EBRD Finance Summary

EUR 150,000,000.00

Total Project Cost

EUR 190,000,000.00


The Project is the construction of a tritium removal facility implemented as part of overall safety improvement programme at an existing NPP in Romania and does not provide for any capacity expansion or service life extension. The Project is subject to comprehensive national ESIA, which includes cumulative issues associated with the existing plant, in line with EU requirements and public consultations, including in the transboundary context.


The full ESIA package has been developed in line with EBRD ESP requirements and disclosed on both Client's site and EBRD ESIA site. An independent consultant has been retained to undertake the ESDD of the Project, specifically: review of the ESIA, E&S and Nuclear & Radiation Safety Audit of the existing facilities and E&S management systems, and prepare the supplementary disclosure package.


The major impacts associated with the Project include construction health and safety, hazardous materials and waste, workers exposure to harmful impacts, community impacts and stakeholder engagement. The ESIA disclosure package includes a stand-alone NTS and supplementary documentation on the radioactive waste treatment facility, plus the full ESIA as required by regulators for the entire plant to outline cumulative impacts.


As part of the Project preparation, an Environmental and Social Action Plan (ESAP), Non-Technical Summary, Stakeholder Engagement Plan (SEP) and Environmental and Social Management and Monitoring Plan (ESMMP) have been developed and disclosed for public review on Nuclearelectrica's web-site.