Last of the spent nuclear fuel removed for temporary storage

Date

2022 04 22

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On 21 April, the last – 190th – cask of spent nuclear fuel was taken to the new interim spent fuel storage facility at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). This is an important phase in the decommissioning of the Ignalina NPP, which was started in 2016 and is now on the way to being successfully completed. 

“Watching the last cask of nuclear fuel travel to the interim storage facility, there is a great sense of pride – a technically complex project has been implemented. We would especially like to thank the power plant team and the representatives from other institutions who helped to implement the project in a safe and timely manner,” said Vice-Minister of Energy Albinas Zananavičius. 

With no nuclear (fissile) materials left in the reactor buildings, one of the most significant guidelines of the Ignalina NPP decommissioning programme will have been achieved. Once all of the fuel is removed from the units, the Ignalina NPP will be able to obtain a VATESI decommissioning licence and perform complex decommissioning works related to the dismantling of the reactor systems. The terms of this licence are expected to allow for the reduction of post-operational costs and more efficient dismantling and demolition of buildings. 

“The completion of such a significant and technically complex project is an important event in the history of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and an expression of our core mission. We aim to become experts in the safe and efficient decommissioning of nuclear facilities as well as in radioactive waste management. We are committed to safely implementing an unprecedented project – the decommissioning of a nuclear power plant with two RBMK reactors. We need to do our part for future generations, so we are moving towards this goal,” said CEO Audrius Kamienas.   

The design storage time for casks is 50 years. In accordance with the provisions of the Radioactive Waste Management Development Programme, at the end of the temporary storage period, the spent nuclear fuel is planned to be placed in a deep repository along with the other long-lived radioactive waste. 

The metal-concrete CONSTOR® RBMK-1500/M2 storage casks have a height of 4.5 m and a diameter of 2.6 m; one fully loaded cask weighs 118 tonnes and holds 91 fuel assemblies.
During the entire operation period of the Ignalina NPP, 21,571 heat-generating nuclear fuel assemblies were used – 6,016 are stored in the old storage facility and 15,555 are stored in the new storage facility.