Lithuania / Ignalina Announces Significant Progress With Decommissioning In 2020

By David Dalton
18 January 2021

Project on schedule for completion in 2028
Ignalina Announces Significant Progress With Decommissioning In 2020
The shut-down Ignalina nuclear power station in Lithuania. Courtesy EBRD.
Workers carrying out decommissioning a the Ignalina nuclear power station in Lithuania removed more than 4,200 tonnes of equipment and 3,500 tonnes of concrete waste in 2020, with more than 7,400 tonnes of radioactive waste processed.

INPP, the company operating the station, said that since decommissioning began in 2010, almost 64,0000 tonnes of equipment and concrete waste have been dismantled. By the end of decommissioning in 2038, a further 108,000 tonnes of equipment will need to be dismantled.

In 2020, extensive dismantling work was carried out in the turbine hall of Unit 2, where 97% of the equipment was dismantled. Most of the equipment, after checking for contamination, is sold at auctions as scrap metal, while the rest is temporarily stored until it can be sent for permanent storage in repositories.

Ignalina’s two Soviet-era RBMK units were shut down permanently in 2004 and 2009 in line with requirements for Lithuania’s membership of the EU.

In October 2020, Ignalina signed an agreement to cooperate with national nuclear power safety inspectorate Vatesi and the Norwegian Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority on a project to improve the safety of radioactive waste management at the shutdown two-unit station.

In March 2020, Ignalina announced a €73m tender to choose a contractor for the construction of a repository for solid radioactive waste.

INPP will use the repository for waste generated by the decommissioning of Ignalina’s two units. Waste will be stored in the repository until decommissioning is finished in 2038. At that point it will be treated and disposed of, nuclear regulator Vatesi said.

The decommissioning is financed by an international donor fund managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. As of 2018, the fund had received more than €750m, largely from the European Commission as well as Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

The fund has already been used to build an interim spent fuel storage facility which started operating in October 2016.

The EBRD said recently that the decommissioning process is well advanced. The interim storage facility for spent fuel has received a total of 142 Constor RBMK 1500-M2 casks loaded with 12,891 spent fuel assemblies from the Ignalina reactors and storage ponds of Units 1 and 2.

A total of 190 casks are to be loaded and transferred to the interim spent fuel storage facility by the end of 2022.

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