Ignalina gets operating licence for storage facility

21 September 2016

An operating licence was issued yesterday for the new interim used fuel storage at the Ignalina nuclear power plant in Lithuania, the State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (Vatesi) announced today. The licence permits commissioning of the facility, known as the ISFSF B1 Project, and the start of hot trials with ten new design casks. ISFSF B1 Project is located in Visaginas municipality.

Lithuania agreed to shut down Ignalina 1 and 2 as a condition of its accession to the European Union. Unit 1 was shut down in December 2004 and unit 2 in December 2009.

During the hot trials, the new casks will be loaded with used fuel and moved to the ISFSF, the operation of which will be tested "in real conditions", Vatesi said.

After successful completion of the tests, Vatesi will allow commercial operation of the facility to start. All of the plant's used fuel is to be moved to facility by the end of 2022.

The used fuel will be stored in specially designed Constor RBMK1500/M2 casks. Each fully loaded cask will weigh 118 tonnes, Vatesi said. About 190 containers with about 16,000 used fuel rods are to be stored at the facility for 50 years.

State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power plant (INPP) said today that the operating licence is "the most important achievement" in decommissioning the plant and also marks the first use of the Constor RBMK1500/M2 casks.

Each stage of the hot trials - from loading used nuclear fuel into the casks to their transportation to the new ISFSF – "will be tested to demonstrate that all design and safety requirements are fully met," the company said.

"Defueling will continue and the start of the 'industrial operation' of the ISFSF in October 2017 is scheduled after Vatesi's approval of the hot trial closeout report and the final safety analysis report," the company said.

Darius Janulevičius, INPP director general, said: "We are very proud to have achieved this important milestone in the world-wide first decommissioning of RBMK1500 reactors. This was achieved as a result of the great efforts and close cooperation of all the project parties. We are particularly grateful to the European Commission and European Bank of Reconstruction and Development which, through their support, have enabled us to overcome project challenges and to achieve this excellent result."

Vince Novak, EBRD Director for Nuclear Safety, added: "Mr Janulevicius and his team brought the B1 project back on track and progress has been outstanding since 2013. We take great satisfaction from this outcome and from the experience of working with this Ignalina team, their contractors, the Ministry of Energy and our EC colleagues."

Project B1 is financially supported by the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund (IIDSF), which is managed by London-based EBRD. The IIDSF is funded by the European Community as well as by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland.

Written and researched
by World Nuclear News