Defuelling of Ignalina units completed

22 April 2022

The final cask of used fuel has been transferred from the reactor buildings at Lithuania's shut down Ignalina nuclear power plant (INPP) to an on-site interim storage facility.

The final cask is transferred to the ISFSF at Ignalina (Image: Vatesi)

The last container of fuel was transported to the INPP New Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility (ISFSF) on 21 April, bringing the total number of casks stored there to 190, loaded with 15,555 used fuel assemblies from Ignalina's two RBMK reactors and storage ponds. The fuel in this facility is stored in CONSTOR RBMK-1500/М2 containers, each of them 4.5 metres in height, 2.6 metres in diameter and weighing about 118 tonnes. Each container holds 91 fuel assemblies.

After interim storage - up to 50 years - in the dry-type ISFSF, all used fuel will be disposed of in a deep geological repository.

The ISFSF was opened in October 2016 and is administered through the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund (IIDSF), which is managed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Established in 2001, the IIDSF has provided more than EUR830 million (USD896 million) to date for the implementation of key decommissioning projects and the development of Lithuania's energy sector. The IIDSF is funded by the European Community as well as by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the UK, Norway and Switzerland.

"Completion of this stage is a key development in the overall decommissioning programme for Ignalina reactors 1 and 2," The EBRD said.

"This milestone is a testament to the longstanding collaboration between the EBRD, Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and the government of Lithuania," said EBRD Director of Nuclear Safety Balthasar Lindauer. "Our partnership, delivered in close collaboration with the European Union as a major donor to the IIDSF, has supported the construction and implementation of a range of complex decommissioning facilities. We look forward to maintaining this unique partnership to ensure the long-term aims of final decommissioning can be achieved safely and on time."

INPP noted that now all the fuel has been removed from the units, it will be able to obtain a decommissioning license from Lithuania's State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (Vatesi) and perform complex decommissioning works related to the dismantling of reactor systems.

"It is hoped that the terms of such a license will reduce post-commissioning costs and make demolition and demolition work more efficient," the plant said.

"The completion of such a significant and technically complex project is an important event in the history of the Ignalina nuclear power plant and an expression of our core mission," said INPP General Manager Audrius Kamienas. "We aim to become experts in the safe and efficient decommissioning of nuclear facilities and in the management of radioactive waste. We are committed to the safe decommissioning of a world-class nuclear power plant with two RBMK reactors. We must pay tribute to future generations, so we are moving towards that goal."

The head of Vatesi, Michail Demčenko, added: "The equipment that will no longer be considered as safety-relevant, after appropriate safety justifications and with appropriate permits, will now be possible to dismantle."

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.

During the entire operation period of the Ignalina plant, 21,571 heat-generating nuclear fuel assemblies were used: 6016 are stored in the old storage facility and 15,555 in the new ISFSF.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News