Lithuania’s State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) has issued Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant with a licence to build a spent nuclear fuel management facility. It follows a construction licence to build solid radioactive waste management facilities at the site, which was issued in August.

Under the licence Ignalina NPP will be able to construct the spent nuclear fuel storage facility and to install ancillary equipment for management of spent nuclear fuel in the power plant’s units. The commissioning of the new spent fuel storage facility is scheduled for 2011. Spent nuclear fuel will be stored in special containers for a fifty-year period.

The licence has been issued under certain preconditions that will have to be fulfilled prior to the beginning of operation of the spent nuclear fuel storage facilities. Until 1 September 2010 Ignalina NPP will have to prepare and to get approved a separate project dedicated to manage untight and mechanically damaged fuel. During a construction stage, Ignalina NPP should properly ensure physical protection and install security equipment at the construction site. Moreover, it has to demonstrate that the contractor has enough qualified manpower to perform specific operations.

The first licence for waste management facilities at Ignalina site was issued on 27 August 2009. Commenting at the time, Michail Demčenko, deputy head of VATESI said:

“This is the first licensed construction project under Ignalina NPP Final Decommissioning Plan. The new facilities will be up to international standards. They will be used for characterization, classification, processing, and storage of solid radioactive waste accumulating in the course of operation and decommissioning of the nuclear power plant.”

The Russian designed RBMK reactor Ignalina 2, which produced 70% of Lithuania’s electricity in 2008 is due to close at the end of 2009. Unit 1 was shut down at the end of 2004 as a condition of the country’s accession to European Union.

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