The Lithuanian State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (Vatesi) has issued an operating licence for the new interim used fuel storage facility (the ISFSF B1 Project) at the Ignalina NPP (INPP), Vatesi told NucNet. The licence, issued on 20 September 2016, confirms that hot trial tests can begin with 10 casks. Each fully loaded cask will weigh 118t and some 190 containers are to be stored at the facility for 50 years.

During the hot trials, the casks will be loaded with used fuel and moved to the new facility, where operation will be tested “in real conditions”, Vatesi said. If the tests are successful Vatesi will give permission for commercial operation of the facility to begin. "Defueling will continue and the start of the 'industrial operation' of the ISFSF in October 2017 is scheduled after Vatesi's approval of the hot trial closeout report and the final safety analysis report," the company said.

INPP said it plans to move all used fuel to the new facility by the end of 2022, and added that the licence is the most important achievement in the decommissioning of Ignalina, marking the first use of new Constor RBMK1500/M2 casks for the removal and storage of RBMK-type used nuclear fuel assemblies. There are 16,000 assemblies to be removed from units 1 and 2, both Soviet-designed RBMK-1500 reactors, which were closed in as a condition for Lithuania’s accession to the European Union.

Project B1 is financially supported by the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund (IIDSF), which is managed by London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The IIDSF is funded by the European Community as well as by Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Norway and Switzerland.