Lithuania Committed To Nuclear Waste Safety says IAEA

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said Lithuania’s national program for managing radioactive waste and for decommissioning demonstrated a commitment to safety, although areas of improvement were also noted.

Lithuanian FlagThe Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) team concluded a ten-day mission to Lithuania. The mission, carried out at the request of the Government of Lithuania, was hosted by the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Lithuania.

The eight-member team, comprised of six experts from Australia, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, and Italy, as well as two IAEA staff members, held meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Energy, the Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI), the Radiation Protection Centre (RSC) and the State Enterprise Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).

The expert mission evaluated the Lithuanian national program and the national framework for implementing the country’s obligations for safe and sustainable radioactive waste and spent fuel management as well as the decommissioning program of the Ignalina NPP, which stopped operating in 2009.

Lithuania’s radioactive waste and spent fuel management program includes spent fuel and waste from the past operation, and the waste from the current decommissioning, of the Ignalina NPP and its two reactors. It also includes waste from industry, medicine and research. Large amounts of graphite originating from the Ignalina NPP’s RBMK-type reactors require innovative waste management solutions.

The ARTEMIS team report highlighted the successful removal of all spent fuel from the Ignalina NPP two units to the dry spent fuel storage facilities. In addition, the ongoing dismantling work being performed at the plant, the development of the national infrastructure for management of radioactive waste and a well-planned communication with interested parties were also of interest.

“Lithuania has developed an elaborate set of laws, regulations, safety requirements and guidance to deal with its radioactive and nuclear waste safety issues related to current and past activities,” said ARTEMIS team leader Walter Blommaert, Waste Management Expert from Belgium. “Lithuania is strongly committed to ensuring safe and effective management of spent fuel and radioactive waste now and in the future and invests in minimizing the generation of waste from decommissioning by applying appropriate processes.”

Recommendations included compiling the elements of the national policy into one document for the purpose of clarity, updating financial projections of its Development Program, and revising the funding system for activities planned after 2030 to ensure that adequate financial resources are available when necessary for safe long-term management of radioactive waste, including its disposal.

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