Photo credit; Ignalina Nuclear Power PlantThe first container holding damaged nuclear fuel has been placed in the interim spent nuclear fuel storage facility (ISFSF) at Ignalina nuclear power plant (INPP) in Lithuania.

Work began in August to remove 367 damaged assemblies stored at the INPP site – the first time such an operation has been carried out at a plant with RBMK reactors. 

The damaged fuel comprises assemblies that became deformed or acquired cladding defects while in the reactor or during transportation and handling. A total of 182 damaged fuel assemblies are stored at Ignalina unit 1 and 185 at unit 2. 

The total number of damaged fuel assemblies stored at both units is relatively small, accounting for only 1.7% of all the fuel assemblies stored at the reactors. All damaged fuel will be placed in 22 containers out of 190, which will be transported to the interim used nuclear fuel storage facility.

Work on handling the damaged fuel at unit 1 should be completed by mid-August 2021, and at unit 2 by the beginning of October 2022.

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. The plant is now undergoing decommissioning. 

INPP said 11 structures had been demolished at the Ignalina site in 2020. These are auxiliary premises, warehouses, workshops, heating mains and other unused buildings. Demolition work started on 11 June. They were completed by the contractor JSC Kaslita, which won the tender for the procurement of demolition works.

Photo: Work handing damaged fuel should be completed by October 2022 (Photo credit; Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant)