IAEA advises on project risks to Ignalina decommissioning

11 April 2016

Lithuania should plan for potential project risks in the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said. Such planning should ensure that future costs and scheduling "remain realistic".

Ignalina - aerial - 460 (IAE)
An aerial photo of the Ignalina plant (Image: INPP)

A five-day, IAEA-led expert mission to the plant reviewed project risks and uncertainties related to the decommissioning of Ignalina's two RBMK-1500 light-water, graphite-moderated reactors, which were permanently shut down in 2004 and 2009, respectively.

The mission - carried out at the invitation of the Lithuanian government - said the operator has "identified risks at both the corporate and individual project level and has taken into consideration the experience of other countries in decommissioning", the IAEA said on 8 April.

However, the four-person team made a number of recommendations and suggestions aimed at strengthening the operator's ability to identify project risks. These include putting in place a baseline cost and schedule for the remainder of the project that provides "sufficient detail and is realistic". It also said the operator should integrate risks into the baseline project and cost schedules, including "a range of possible outcomes". It also said the plant should introduce a formal process of regular reporting against the identified risks.

The team will present its full report to the plant's operator "in the coming weeks", the IAEA said.

The IAEA team leader Patrick O'Sullivan noted, "Any undertaking of this kind involves a series of risks and uncertainties, so it's important to mitigate them wherever possible. Factoring these risks into the planning effort will help ensure realistic future cost estimates."

Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) director general Darius Janulevičius said, "The broad competence and extensive experience of the experts involved in the IAEA mission will support INPP's efforts towards building up an integrated risk management system that works effectively."

"The decommissioning of power units with RBMK-type reactors has allowed INPP to gain unique experience that can be systematized and applied in other nuclear energy projects," Janulevičius added. "INPP has a vision to become an expert on safe and efficient nuclear facility decommissioning and radioactive waste management."

Lithuania agreed to shut down Ignalina 1 and 2 as a condition of its accession to the European Union. The European Commission is providing substantial funding for the project, scheduled to be completed in 2038.

The IAEA said some key decommissioning milestones had recently been reached at Ignalina, including partial dismantlement of the turbine hall and construction of a solid radioactive waste management facility and an interim used fuel storage facility.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News