Ignalina nuclear power plantLithuania’s Ignalina nuclear power plant said on 9 October that it had suspended the packaging of radioactive waste due to a malfunction of the scales.

During hot tests at the complex for the handling and storage of solid radioactive waste (B3/4), when weighing a package intended for storing short-lived radioactive waste, its weight was found to be excessive.

Preliminary estimates suggested the weight of the package exceeded the established limits because of a malfunction of the scales used in the formation of packages.  Work with the packages was temporarily suspended until the causes of the malfunction were clarified.

“We emphasise that this event did not affect the personnel and the environment; the radiation background did not change; there is no impact on nuclear safety; and the work continues as usual,” the plant said. On the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), this event was rated 0. Information about the event was sent to the regulator, VATESI.

Meanwhile, Ignalina NPP announced that it was seeking appraisers of potential sites for the construction of a repository for nuclear waste. The plant announced a public procurement of services for "Socio-economic assessment of potential sites for the construction of a deep burial ground", noting that this was a project of national importance. The task of the appraiser includes the socio-economic assessment of the site for the repository, including the analysis of:

  • the impact on the natural environment of the potential site;
  • impacts on potential local social conditions;
  • impacts on potential local economic conditions;
  • impact on the living environment of a potential site; and
  • impacts on potential land / territory use.

The deadline for submitting proposals is 29 October. Lithuanian and foreign suppliers can participate in the procurement. A one-year contract is expected to be awarded in the first quarter of 2021.

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. According to the latest estimates, the total cost of decommissioning the facilities is put at €3316 million. Decommissioning is largely (86%) funded by the European Union. The work is carried out by plant 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).

Photo: Ignalina nuclear power plant is undergoing decommissioning