Tender issued for removal of Italian reactor vessel

03 August 2023

Societa Gestione Impianti Nucleari SpA (Sogin), the Italian state-owned company responsible for decommissioning the country's nuclear power plants, has announced the launch of a tender for the dismantling of the reactor vessel and internals of the Garigliano nuclear power plant.

The Garigliano plant (Image: Sogin)

The Garigliano boiling water reactor was connected to the grid in January 1964 and was shut down in 1982.

Sogin said the tender - valued at about EUR36 million (USD39 million) - provides for the segmentation and extraction operations of the components and the vessel, which are heavily contaminated, to take place under water, which provides shielding for workers.

In preparation for the removal of the vessel, the auxiliary systems of the reactor building have already been restored (electrical, ventilation, automation and control systems) and the flooding circuit of the vessel and the reactor channel within which the operations will take place, from where the carbon steel fuel racks and their support structures were removed.

With the dismantling of the vessel, which will end in 2027, Sogin said it has entered the final phase of the decommissioning of the Garigliano plant. "This is the most complex activity from an engineering and operational point of view, which Italy will face for the first time," it said.

The radioactive waste produced during the dismantling of the vessel will be treated and placed in shielded cylindrical containers which will be stored in the temporary on-site storage facilities pending their transfer to the national repository, once available.

Sogin said the dismantling of the Garigliano plant will produce a total of about 268,000 tonnes of materials. Of these, approximately 258,000 tonnes (96%) will be sent for recycling, mostly made up of metals and concrete.

Italy operated a total of four nuclear power plants starting in the early 1960s, but decided to phase out nuclear power in a referendum that followed the 1986 Chernobyl accident. It closed its last two operating plants, Caorso and Trino Vercellese, in 1990. State-owned Sogin was established in 1999 to take responsibility for decommissioning Italy's former nuclear power sites and locating a national waste store.

Separately, Sogin has launched a tender - valued at about EUR10 million - for the construction of a facility for the recovery and treatment of about 70 tonnes of radioactive Magnox alloy residues at the Latina nuclear power plant.

This radioactive waste derives from the removal of the "flaps" of the fuel elements, carried out before they are sent abroad for reprocessing. This waste will be placed in special containers and stored in the site's temporary storage facility pending transfer to the national repository.

The Latina plant, comprising a single 210 MWe Magnox graphite gas-cooled reactor, began operating in January 1964. It was permanently shut in December 1987. Sogin took over ownership of the site in November 1999.

Italy's Ministry of Economic Development issued a decree in June 2020 authorising Sogin to begin the initial phase of decommissioning the Latina plant. The Latina plant was the last of the four Italian nuclear power plants to obtain a decommissioning decree.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News