Lithuania starts hot tests at solid waste facility

09 June 2017

The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) in Lithuania has taken another step forward in the decommissioning process with the start today of hot trials, using radioactive materials, of the new Solid Radioactive Waste Management and Storage Facility. The milestone was announced by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Ignalina SWMSF - 460 (EBRD)
The SWMSF facility at Ignalina (Image: EBRD)

The facility is a key element of the decommissioning of INPP and financed through the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund (IIDSF). Established in 2001 and managed by the EBRD, the fund has provided more than €830 million ($928 million) to date for the implementation of key decommissioning projects and the development of Lithuania's energy sector.

Known as the SWMSF B2/3/4 Project, the facility will provide INPP with the means to retrieve, characterise, sort, transport, pack and store the short- and long-lived radioactive solid waste accumulated during the operation of the Ignalina plant as well as waste being generated during the decommissioning process. It was built by Germany's Nukem Technologies at a cost of about €200 million.

Gunter Grabia, EBRD associate director and head of IIDSF, said: "We are satisfied with the successful start today of the hot trial of the new facility which is one of the most complex projects in the decommissioning process of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. We are confident that the contractor, the INPP management and the Lithuanian authorities will continue their efficient cooperation in order to complete this key project on schedule and on budget."

The waste management and storage system complies with the new requirements of the laws of Lithuania, EU standards and International Atomic Energy Agency recommendations, the London-based bank said. After the trial period, industrial operations are scheduled to begin in June next year.

Simonas Šatūnas, vice-minister of energy of Lithuania, said in the EBRD statement: "As we look ahead, today's celebration is evidence of successful progress towards the decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. However, significant challenges lie ahead and these will require focused leadership and close attention."

Massimo Garribba, director-general for energy at the European Commission, said: "As the main contributor to the IIDSF, the European Commission has always encouraged the parties to find pragmatic solutions to move the project forward. The project contributes to the safe management of radioactive waste. It has been excellent teamwork with a focus on tangible results. We are now looking forward to seeing this facility at work, processing waste."

The EBRD-managed IIDSF is supported by the European Union, which has provided 96% of the contributions. Other contributors include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

Lithuanian State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate, Vatesi, said on 5 May it had issued a permit for the start of commercial operation of the country's new interim used fuel storage facility. The announcement followed State Enterprise INPP's successful completion of hot tests with ten new design casks.

This facility, known as the ISFSF B1 Project, is at the plant site in Visaginas municipality. Used fuel will be stored in specially designed Constor RBMK1500/M2 casks that will each weigh 118 tonnes when fully loaded. It is expected that about 190 containers with 17,000 used fuel rods will be stored in the facility for up to 50 years.

Lithuania agreed to shut down Ignalina units 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.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News