Italy’s Societa Gestione Impianti Nucleari SpA (Sogin) has begun dismantling the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) of the boiling water reactor, at the Garigliano NPP (municipality of Sessa Aurunca, Caserta). The upper part, or head, of the RPV has been opened and Sogin together with subsidiary Nucleco has begun the complex dismantling activity.

Preparatory activities carried out before the removal of the vessel head included restoring auxiliary electrical, ventilation and control systems to the reactor building, as well as the circuit to flood the reactor channel. This operation was carried out under the supervision the National Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety & Radiation Protection (ISIN – Ispettorato Nazionale per la Sicurezza Nucleare e la Radioprotezione).

The first phase of the dismantling programme involves the removal of the equipment from the upper part of the vessel by the first quarter of 2024. Sogin will then start dismantling the vessel itself and the systems and components of the reactor building (internals). After removing the vessel head the rest of the vessel will be submerged in the reactor channel. This will provide a natural radiation shield for subsequent dismantling operations which will be carried out under water, Sogin said.

Garigliano NPp comprised a 150 MWe boiling water reactor that was connected to the grid in 1964 and shut down in 1982. Italy decided to phase out nuclear power in a referendum that followed the 1986 Chernobyl accident and Sogin was established in 1999 to undertake decommissioning of the nuclear facilities and siting a national waste store.

Image: Removing the vessel head marks the start of the final phase of decommissioning of the boiling water reactor (courtesy of Sogin)