December 31st marks ten years since the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) no longer produces electricity and now its main activity is the decommissioning of two RBMK-type reactors with safe management of radioactive waste, in order to avoid an unjustified burden of radioactive waste management for future generations.
Today, the number of personnel at INPP is 1837 people. Everyday plant employees perform important decommissioning work. After the closure of power plant, a number of challenges and innovations arose and only due to the intensive pace of project work and excellent teamwork over the decade, significant progress was achieved in the main projects of the decommissioning of the INPP.
The volume of dismantling works is increasing annually. To date, more than 1/3 of all equipment has been dismantled (over 50,000 out of 160,000 tonnes), the same amount of non-radioactive waste has been recycled and disposed of; the dismantling of Unit 1 reactor refueling machine was already completed.
Major infrastructure projects related to the key challenges of reactor dismantling are being successfully implemented:
The Interim Spent Fuel Storage Facility (B1) project has been successfully completed and the corresponding fast unloading and transportation of fuel to the storage facility is underway. This pace of work will allow to finish the fuel unloading in mid-2022. To date, 135 containers of spent nuclear fuel have been transported to the facility. By the end of 2022, a total of 190 fuel containers are planned to be stored.
Upon successful completion of the tests on radioactive waste, another strategically important facility will be put into commercial operation - a new complex -Solid Waste Management and Storage Facilities (B2 / 3/4). Construction work on the Landfill Facility for Very Low-Level Radioactive Waste (B19) is underway, with completion of construction and operation of the repository planned for 2020.
At the beginning of 2020 it is planned to launch a tender, sign a contract and start construction of a Near Surface Repository for Low-and Intermediate-Level Short-Lived Radioactive Waste (B25).
Previously built and successfully operated: Free Release Measurement Facility (B10) necessary for measuring waste prior to transportation, Buffer Storage (B19-1) is the first part of the B19 project, intended for temporary storage of waste until it is transported to the landfill.
Preparation works are underway for the decommissioning of two of the world's most powerful RBMK reactors. These are unique and technologically complex works that has not been implemented in the world yet. In 2018, a series of 4 seminars was held at INPP to exchange the world's experience in this field. The seminars aroused great interest from foreign companies, which provided an excellent opportunity to present the prospects and future challenges of the dismantling project of the Ignalina NPP reactors. A tender for the dismantling project documentation of the power Unit 1 and Unit 2 of reactor zone R3 is planned for the first quarter of the year.
In 2019, INPP updated the Final Decommissioning Plan (GENP), which is the main document describing the decommissioning of a nuclear facility. After analyzing the current situation and forecasting future work volumes, the final decommissioning date compared to 2014 GENP version is left unchanged - 2038. Despite the reassessment of the volume of equipment to be dismantled, its total volume compared to the information held by GENP in 2014 was increased for nearly 30 percent. After recalculating inflation estimates, the estimated total cost of decommissioning works decreased by 60 million Euro. According to the new version of GENP, the total cost of decommissioning (including risks and inflation) is 3316 million Euro.
INPP is constantly implementing operational efficiency measures and is looking for new opportunities to reduce the operating costs of the power plant. To reduce the cost of electricity and contribute to the sustainable development of the energy sector, a comprehensive analysis of the possibility of reducing the amount of energy used is being carried out: the transition from district heating to gas heating of some buildings; use of alternative sources.
In order to increase the operational efficiency of the company and to seek effective solutions in the field of decommissioning projects and radioactive waste management, INPP closely cooperates with foreign countries and the International Atomic Energy Agency, organizes and participates in seminars on decommissioning and radioactive waste management.
In the future, INPP expects a time of responsible works, where the enterprise will face new challenges. That is why the support of the European Commission is essential. The support of the EP at the request of Lithuania in negotiations on the amount of funding for the closure of the INPP after 2020 is especially appreciated. It is extremely important for INPP to have the necessary funding for the major works planned - the dismantling of the reactor areas, which cannot be stopped once work has begun.
The main future goals and objectives of INPP remain unchanged - to successfully complete the unloading of spent nuclear fuel from spent nuclear fuel storage pools and other decommissioning works, to seek new ways of improving the efficiency of the enterprise’s operation, to continue the dismantling of equipment and safe management of radioactive waste. A period of responsible works awaits the INPP, since Lithuania is the first country in the world that, after unloading fuel, is preparing to dismantle a RBMK-type reactor, its equipment and associated systems. The goal of INPP is not only to implement decommissioning in a timely, safe and effective manner, but also the acquisition of experience that allows the enterprise to compete internationally and participate in international decommissioning projects.
The decommissioning of INPP is largely (86%) funded by the EU.