The Lithuanian government on 3 February approved a programme for the development of decommissioning of nuclear power facilities and radioactive waste management for 2021–2030, which sets out strategic guidelines for the management of radioactive waste.
"Our goal is to properly dispose of all radioactive waste existing and to be generated in Lithuania, thus protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation and not leaving an undeserved burden on future generations," said Deputy Minister of Energy Albinas Zananavicius.
The aim of the programme is to ensure that the waste is safely disposed of after the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP (INPP). It sets out the qualitative changes that the state aims to achieve in the next decade, the measures necessary to achieve them, the meanings of their result indicators and the projections of the expected funds.
The programme has been prepared in accordance with the new strategic planning documents and the results of the complex problem-cause analysis in the field of nuclear energy and radioactive waste management.
In Lithuania, most of the radioactive waste and used nuclear fuel was generated at INPP. Low level of radioactive waste - up to 1% - has also been produced by industry, health care, science and training institutions. Both INPP reactors (RBMK-1500s) have been shut down and preparations are underway for their dismantling.
Part of the radioactive waste at the plant was generated during its operation, and the rest is being generated during its decommissioning. In 2020, 4212 tons of equipment and 3579 tons of concrete waste were dismantled at and more than 7400 tons of radioactive waste were processed.
During the entire decommissioning period which began in 2010, almost 64,000 tons of equipment and concrete waste were produced and by the end of decommissioning in 2038 a further 108,000 tons of equipment will be dismantled. The planned final date for decommissioning of Ignalina is 2038.
The radioactive waste is expected to be disposed of in a short-lived very low-level radioactive waste repository and a short-lived low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste repository. The used nuclear fuel together with long-lived radioactive waste will be disposed of in a deep radioactive waste repository.
The financial projections provided for in the programme are divided into three periods during which the measures will be implemented: the requirements for the period of 2021–2030 is €1,002 million ($1455m); for 2031–2038 - €922 million; and for 2039–2138 - about €3.4 billion. The work will be financed from the Ignalina Programme (EU support), the International Ignalina Decommissioning Support Fund, the Lithuanian state budget and INPP.
INPP comprised two water-cooled graphite-moderated channel-type RBMK-1500 reactors. It was originally planned as a four-unit site. Unit 1 came online in 1983 and unit 2 in 1987. Originally, unit 2 was scheduled for launch in 1986, but this was postponed following the Chernobyl accident, after which both units were de-rated to 1360MWe.
Lithuania agreed to close the plant as part of its accession agreement to the European Union (EU), which argued that lack of containment made the units unsafe. Ignalina 1 closed in 2004 and Ignalina 2 - which accounted for 25% of Lithuania’s electricity generating capacity and supplied about 70% of Lithuania’s electrical demand - closed in 2009.
Following closure of the plant Lithuania became an energy importer. The total estimated cost of the Ignalina decommissioning project is over €2.5bn, with the EU pledging €1.4bn towards these costs, funded largely through the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund (IIDSF) administered by the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) and two other funds administered by EBRD.
About 95% of the required decommissioning funds are being provided by the EU member states. The other 5% comes from Lithuanian state funds through the state’s own energy agency.
In March 2020, INPP announced a tender for the construction of a near-surface repository for low- and medium-level short-lived radioactive waste and project B25-2 for the connection of rainwater drainage networks to the existing infrastructure.
Three proposals were received but the INPP Public Procurement Commission rejected all three on the grounds that they exceeded the amount allocated for the purchase. INPP said it would announce a new tender in the near future. Project B25-2 is funded by the European Union.