Start of hot trial at Lithuania's Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

By Axel  Reiserer

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Start of hot trial at Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

Major step forward in  EBRD-managed decommissioning process

The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) in Lithuania has taken another important step forward in the decommissioning process, managed by the EBRD, with the start of the hot trial, using radioactive materials, of the new Solid Radioactive Waste Management and Storage Facility (SWMSF, Project B2/3/4) today.

Following the granting of an operating license by the state regulator VATESI for the facility, the hot trial operation aims to demonstrate that the SWMSF performance complies with the technical specification. 

The state-of-the-art facility built by Nukem Technologies 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 (shut down in 2009) as well as waste being generated during the decommissioning process.

The waste management and storage system complies with the new requirements of the laws of Lithuania, EU standards and IAEA recommendations. After the trial period, industrial operations are scheduled to begin in June 2018.

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 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) the fund has provided more than €830 million to date for the implementation of key decommissioning projects and the development of Lithuania’s energy sector. SWMSF has been built at a cost of close to €200 million.

Darius Janulevicius, Director General of INPP, expressed his gratitude towards INPP employees and the contractor. “As a result of the huge dedication and competence of all parties involved, we can mark today the achievement of an important milestone in the construction of this modern, radioactive waste management and storage facility,” he said. He also took the opportunity to thank the European Commission and the EBRD for their support and constructive cooperation in the implementation of the INPP decommissioning project.

Simonas Šatūnas, Vice-Minister of Energy of Lithuania, emphasised that the progress made to date demonstrated effective planning, coordination and cooperation of all stakeholders and gave confidence that the decommissioning of INPP was firmly on track. “As we look ahead, today’s celebration is evidence of successful progress towards the decommissioning of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. However, significant challenges lie ahead and these will require focused leadership and close attention,” said Mr Šatūnas, as he congratulated INPP’s team and thanked all who have contributed to the project.

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.”

Gunter Grabia, EBRD Associate Director, Head of IIDSF, commented: “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.”

Thomas Seipolt, Managing Director of NUKEM Technologies Engineering Services GmbH, highlighted the importance of the third milestone achieved: “Our success in the decommissioning projects is continuing. Within the past seven months, we have reached our third milestone. Since we started the implementation of this project we have worked together and made good progress to achieve this important milestone.”

The EBRD-managed International Ignalina Decommissioning Support Fund (IIDSF) is supported by the European Union, which has provided 96 per cent of the contributions. Other contributors include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.


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