Almost 5000 tonnes of equipment was dismantled at Ignalina nuclear plant in 2019 (Credit INPP): Ignalina NPP (INPP) in Lithuania, which is decommissioning its two RBMK reactors, in 2019 dismantled 5483 tons (almost 5000 tonnes) of equipment and associated structures INPP said on 9 January.

Of these, 2917 tonnes were treated and disposed of as non-radioactive waste and will be sold as scrap metal.

Over the entire decommissioning period, which started in 2010, more than 51,000 tonnes of equipment and associated structures have been dismantled and by 2038, it is planned to dismantle more than 160,000 tonnes of equipment and related structures.

Dismantling work has already been completed in the turbine hall of unit 1, and 92% is completed in the unit 2 turbine hall.

By the end of 2019, the fuel loading and unloading equipment at Ignalina unit 1 had been dismantled.

Most of the dismantled equipment, after checking for contamination with radionuclides, is sold as scrap metal at auction. The remainder is temporarily stored on-site pending transportation for permanent storage in repositories.

Ignalina completes construction of waste facilities

The project for the temporary storage of used nuclear fuel (B1) has been completed, and fuel is currently being unloaded and transported to the storage facility. Fuel removal should be completed by mid-2022, according to the plant.

To date, 135 containers with used fuel have been transported to the storage facility. By the end of 2022 some 190 containers will be in storage.

A complex for the management and storage of solid radioactive waste (B2 / 3/4) is now undergoing final testing.

Construction is nearing completion at a disposal facility for short-lived very low-level waste (B19), which is due to start operation in 2020.

In early 2020, INPP plans to announce a tender, sign a contract and begin construction of a repository for low- and medium-activity short-lived radioactive waste (B25).

Facilities already in operation include an installation for measuring the radioactivity of materials (B10), necessary for measuring waste before transportation; the buffer storage (B19-1) as the first part of the B19 project, intended for the temporary storage of waste until it is transported to the landfill.

Preparing to decommission Ignalina

Preparations are underway for the decommissioning the RBMK reactors at Ignalina. The number of personnel working at INPP is 1837.

INPP said the work is "technologically complex" and has not been carried out before. In 2018, four seminars were held at the INPP to exchange experience in this field.  A tender for design documentation for dismantling the reactor zone of units 1 and 2 is planned for the first quarter of 2020.

In 2019, INPP updated the final decommissioning plan (PSEI) keeping the planned completion date at 2038.

Despite the reassessment of the volume of dismantled equipment, which compared with 2014 increased by about 30%, after recalculating inflation estimates, the estimated total cost of decommissioning decreased by almost €60 million ($66.7m). According to the new total cost of decommissioning (including risks and inflation) is now estimated at €3316 million.

INPP said that, in future, it “will have to carry out responsible work, during which the company will face new challenges, and the support of the European Commission is important”.

The decommissioning of the INPP is largely (86%) funded by the European Union. The work is carried out by INPP personnel and funded by the International Fund for the Support of Decommissioning of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and the Ignalina Programme, under the supervision of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

However, Brussels has reduced EU financing for the closure of Ignalina. The EC has indicated that Lithuania should increase its contribution to financing the closure. The draft regulation approved by the Commission in June 2018 said the EU will finance no more than 80% of the expenditure in the 2021-2027 budgets, and that Lithuania and other international donors must contribute 20%.

The support of the European Parliament in negotiations on the amount of funding to close the INPP after 2020 is especially appreciated, INPP noted. “It is extremely important for the INPP to have the necessary financing for the planned main works – dismantling of the reactor zones, which cannot be stopped after the start of work,” it said.

Photo: Almost 5000 tonnes of equipment was dismantled at Ignalina nuclear plant in 2019 (Credit INPP)