Commissioning of Ignalina solid waste facilities under way

26 August 2015

Cold testing - one of the first stages of the commissioning process - has started at the new Solid Waste Management and Storage Facilities (SWMSF) at the shut down Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania.

A ceremony was held at the plant yesterday to mark the start of the cold tests. It was attended by, among others, the CEO of Lithuanian state enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant Darius Janulvičius, Lithuanian energy minister Rokas Masiulis, Nukem Technologies executive director Jean Maurer and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) nuclear safety director Vince Novak.

Ignalina solid waste facility - 250 (IAE)
Workers move a waste container at the new Ignalina SWMSF (Image: Ignalina NPP)

The cold tests aim to test the equipment and operational systems, without the use of radioactive waste, to demonstrate their safety and that they meet the design and operation requirements. The tests are scheduled to be completed next year, after which hot tests using radioactive waste will continue until 2017. Full operation of the facilities will then commence.

The solid waste facilities will handle all solid radioactive waste from the operation and decommissioning of the Ignalina plant that has provided almost 70% of the country's power. Some 120,000 cubic meters of short- and long-lived radioactive waste currently stored at Ignalina will be processed by them. The facilities will be used for characterization, classification, processing, and storage of solid radioactive waste accumulating in the course of operation and decommissioning of the plant. The solid waste will be stored at the facility for 50 years.

The new SWMSF is located at two separate sites. The solid waste retrieval facility has been built next to the existing temporary waste storage buildings inside the perimeter of the Ignalina plant. The solid waste treatment and storage facilities have been constructed on a new site close to the plant, adjacent to the interim used fuel storage facility.

Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant signed a contract with Nukem in November 2005 for the design, construction and commissioning of the SWMSF. The project is financed by the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund, which is administered by the EBRD.

In a statement, Janulvičius said, "With the launching of the Solid Waste Management and Storage Facilities, the only such ones in the region, Ignalina has developed a smart, safe and well-considered radioactive waste management infrastructure."

Lithuania agreed to shut down Ignalina I and 2 – both Soviet-design RBMK reactors - as a condition of its accession to the European Union. Unit 1 was shut down in 2004 and unit 2 in 2009. The two light-water, graphite-moderated reactors came on line in 1983 and 1987, respectively.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News