Ignalina 2 decommissioning work starts

24 July 2014

Work has started at the second unit of the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania to dismantle its emergency core cooling system (ECCS) and to remove contaminated components from its turbine hall. The two projects are to be completed in June 2015 and by 2029, respectively.

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.

A total of 1000 tonnes of ECCS equipment will be dismantled, the company responsible for the plant said on 21 July. After treatment and decontamination, 99% of this is to be sold, while the rest is to be disposed of. The company did not say what exactly would be sold or how. In the turbine hall, 20,500 tonnes of different equipment is to be dismantled, it said.

Work on the two projects can start following the passing of a 17 June law on Ignalina nuclear power plant decommissioning, the company said.

The two light-water, graphite-moderated reactors came on line in 1983 and 1987, respectively.

In 1994, Lithuania agreed to accept funds from the Nuclear Safety Account administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) – to support a safety improvement program at Ignalina.

Unloading the used fuel from unit 2 was expected to be done by April 2012. By April 2016, it is expected that all fuel from unit 1 and 2 will have been unloaded from the used fuel storage pools into casks and transported to the new interim used fuel storage facility, where it is to remain for 50 years. The EBRD suspended funding for this in December 2012 due to a lack of progress, but resumed it in July 2013.

The total estimated cost of the Ignalina decommissioning project is more than €2.5 billion ($3.37 billion), with the EU having pledged €1.4 billion ($1.89 billion).

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News