Lithuania’s Ignalina nuclear power plant, which is undergoing decommissioning, resumed working on loading used nuclear fuel into containers on 21 April.

All non-essential work was suspended at the site on 6 April due to the risk of the spread of Covid-19.

During this week, the plant said it will resume the processes that are "strategically important" to ensure the implementation of the streamlined decommissioning process. This includes loading used fuel into containers, transporting it to storage, and related support activities for radiation safety, repair, laboratory testing, waste disposal, solid radioactive waste management and preparation for dismantling.

Next week, dismantling and related activities will begin, and in the third week, the primary treatment of radioactive waste and all remaining processes will be resumed.

During the two weeks when only essential work took place, the plant developed and implemented additional measures to improve the safety of workers and for working under changing conditions associated with the adverse epidemiological situation.

More frequent disinfection of rooms and surfaces has been organised, hand sanitisers are installed at all entrances to the most important rooms, and radiation monitoring equipment is constantly disinfected, Ignalina NPP said.

The plant also noted that workers are provided with personal protective equipment and that their temperatures are monitored. Measures such as strict social distancing have also been implemented.

“We will live and work in the changed conditions for a long time, so this two-week period has been used for the smooth return of employees to a safe working environment," said Audrius Kamienas, director general of INPP.  "At present, our employees are safe, and the work continues.”

The plant said the two-week minimum operating mode did not significantly affect work schedules nor the progress of the projects.

Ignalina comprises two 1500MWe RBMK reactors and support facilities.  Ignalina 1 was shut down in 2004 and unit 2 in 2009 as a condition for Lithuania’s accession to the European Union.

Photo: Ignalina nuclear power plant (Credit: INPP)