Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant
|Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant|
Entrance to the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant
|Official name||Ignalinos Atominė Elektrinė|
|Commission date||31 December 1983|
|Decommission date||31 December 2009|
|Operator(s)||Ignalinos Atominė Elektrinė|
|Nuclear power station|
|Make and model||Kharkiv turbine plant
|Units decommissioned||2 x 1,500 MW|
The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (Lithuanian: Ignalinos Atominė Elektrinė, IAE, Russian: Игналинская атомная электростанция, Ignalinskaya atomnaya elektrostantsiya) is a closed two-unit RBMK-1500 nuclear power station in Visaginas municipality, Lithuania. It was named after the nearby city of Ignalina. Due to the plant's similarities to the failed Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in both reactor design and lack of a robust containment building, Lithuania agreed to close the plant as part of its accession agreement to the European Union. Unit 1 was closed in December 2004. The remaining Unit 2 which counted for 25% of Lithuania's electricity generating capacity and supplied about 70% of Lithuania's electrical demand, was closed on December 31, 2009. Proposals have been made to construct a new nuclear power plant at the same site.
The Ignalina nuclear power plant contained two RBMK-1500 water-cooled graphite-moderated channel-type power reactors. The Soviet-designed RBMK-1500 reactor was originally the most powerful reactor in the world with an electrical power capacity of 1,500 megawatts (MW) and thermal power capacity of 4,800 MW, but this distinction was later superseded by other nuclear reactors elsewhere. After the Chernobyl disaster of April 1986 the reactor was de-rated to 1,360 MW. These are of a similar type of reactor (RBMK-1000) as at the Chernobyl power plant, hence the European Union's insistence on closing them. Each unit of the power plant was equipped with two K-750-65/3000 turbines with 800 MW generators.
In December 1983, when Ignalina Unit 1 came online, a design flaw of the RBMK was noticed for the first time. The graphite moderated tips on the control rods, which partially caused the Chernobyl accident, were entered into the reactor. They immediately caused a power surge. In this case the control rods did not get stuck, and could get down to the bottom of the reactor. The boron in the control rods stopped the nuclear reaction. Other nuclear organizations and RBMK plants were informed of the problem, but it was not addressed until after the accident at Chernobyl. The subsequent modifications were tested at Ignalina during 1987 and 1988.
Preparations for the construction began in 1974. Field work began four years later. Unit 1 came online in December 1983, and was closed on December 31, 2004. Unit 2 came online in August 1987 and was closed on December 31, 2009 at 23:00 EET (21:00 UTC). Originally, Unit 2 was scheduled for launch in 1986, but its commissioning was postponed for a year because of the Chernobyl accident. The construction of Unit 3 started in 1985, but was suspended in 1988 and its demolition began in 1989. Its dismantling was completed in 2008. Construction of the Unit 4 never started because of the public backlash against nuclear power following the Chernobyl disaster.
The town of Visaginas was built to accommodate the plant's workers. At the time, the settlements at Visaginas were no more than villages, making it a prominent example of "greenfield investment", a situation when a large town or industrial facility is built in an area with little existing infrastructure. It was sited next to the largest lake in Lithuania, Lake Drūkšiai (part of which lies in neighbouring Belarus) which provided the plant's cooling water. The temperature of the lake has risen by about 3 °C (5.4 °F), causing eutrophication. The plant's discharges of radionuclides and heavy metals have accumulated in lake waters and sediments.
In 2005, Lithuanian authorities told that Russian agent Vladimir Alganov—earlier deported from Poland—had been granted a Lithuanian visa for some reason and he had met managers of Ignalina in 2003.
According to an Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant press release, on June 6, 2009, at 09:15 EEST (06:15 UTC), the automatic reactor protection system was actuated and Unit 2 was shut down. No radiation was released. Plant officials decided to keep it off-line for thirty days, performing the annual preventive maintenance in June, instead of August 29–September 27 as originally scheduled.
As a condition of entry into the European Union, Lithuania agreed in 1999 to close existing units of the station, citing the Ignalina plant's lack of a containment building as a high risk. The European Union agreed to pay €820 million decommissioning costs and compensation, with payments continuing until 2013.
Closure of the plant faced fierce opposition from the Lithuanian people. The plant provides income to most local residents. To compensate for this, a project was started to encourage tourism and other small businesses. Others were afraid that the price of electricity would skyrocket or that Lithuania would be left to cope with the extremely high costs of decommissioning the plant and disposing of its nuclear waste. A 2008 referendum proposed extending the operation of Unit 2 until a new nuclear plant could be completed as a replacement; the referendum gained 1,155,192 votes for the proposal, but ultimately failed to gain the 50% turnout necessary to be passed. President Valdas Adamkus opposed the measure on grounds that continued operation would not respect Lithuania's international commitments.
The Lithuanian government forecasts that the electricity price for households will rise by 30% from 2010. Analysts expect that the shutdown could cut Lithuania's gross domestic product growth by 1–1.5%, and increase inflation by 1%. Ignalina's production will be compensated for by production of the fossil fuel Elektrėnai Power Plant as well as by imports from Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, and Belarus. The closure may test Lithuanian-Russian relations. Responding to concerns that Lithuania would become more dependent on Russian energy sources that could be withdrawn if relations deteriorate, President Dalia Grybauskaitė issued reassuring statements in late 2009.
Ignalina NPP decommissioning project includes decommissioning of Unit 1 and 2 and auxiliary facilities. The process is divided into two phases. The first phase started in 2004 and continues until 2013. The second phase is scheduled for 2014–2029. By 2030, the site of two reactors should be ready for re-use ("brownfield").
On 26 November 2002, Lithuanian government passed a resolution to the effect that the Ignalina NPP Unit 1 is to be decommissioned through immediate dismantling. The choice of method was influenced by economic and social factors, safety aspects, and decommissioning work experience at other nuclear power plants. Representatives of Ignalina NPP were also in favor of immediate dismantling because in this case prerequisites would be created for improving employment rate. One of the decommissioning priorities is in-house approach - to perform as many works as possible with own personnel.
Unloading of used fuel from the unit 2 began on 1 February 2011.
The decommissioning program has been financed from the European Union, Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund, SE Ignalina NPP National Decommissioning Fund, and targeted specific grants from Lithuanian state budget for municipalities. About 95% of the funds have been provided by the international community, while 5% is provided by Lithuanian state.
On 20–21 June 2000, the international donors conference for decommissioning projects of unit 1 took place in Lithuania. Representatives from European Commission, the G-7 countries, international financial organizations participated in the conference. In 2001 the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund was established, administered by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Participants in this fund are the EBRD, the European Commission, and 15 donor countries.
The pledged funds for the decommissioning process in 1999-2013 are estimated as €1,588.5 million. The national decommissioning funds are estimated as €188.6 million. In total, it is planned to spend about €2.93 billion until 2029.
The European Union has already allocated a contribution of €1.45 billion until 2014, which is intended to be used:
- €1.1 billion for the preparatory decommissioning works – construction of a spent nuclear fuel storage facility[disambiguation needed], radioactive waste management, and storage facilities and repositories.
- €50 million for funding of strategic energy projects.
In order to ensure proper funding of decommissioning until 2029, €1.48 billion additional support from the EU is needed, of which:
- €870 million for the period from 2014 to 2020.
- €610 million for the period from 2021 to 2029.
Lithuania's national contribution to the financing of decommissioning process from 1999 to 2029 will compose about €320 million (12%):
- €182 million is planned for the period until 2014.
- €138 million is planned for the period from 2014 to 2029.
Repository and storage
There will be three different type of storage facilities: for the spent nuclear fuel, nuclear fuel waste and radioactive waste.
Most of the facilities will be built by Nukem Technologies, a subsidiary of Atomstroyexport. A contract for construction of a spent fuel facility was given by Nukem Technologies to the Lithuanian construction company Vėtrūna. A near-surface repository for redundant materials and waste is to be built by a consortium led by Areva TA. The repository should be completed by 2017 and it is expected to cost €10 million.
On 18 May 2010, Lithuanian energy minister Arvydas Sekmokas announced that although 60% of the funds have been spent, no single project has been completed. As of 2011, the phase 1 of decommissioning is three to four years behind the schedule. According to Osvaldas Čiukšys, former CEO of the Ignalina plant, Nukem Technologies is going to ask additional €100 million for completing the nuclear waste storage facility. This was opposed by the former vice minister of energy and chairman of the board of Ignalina plant Romas Švedas, who unexpectedly resigned on 6 September 2011.
There is a dispute between the Government of Lithuania and the EBRD about the administration of the Ignalina International Decommissioning Support Fund. There is also a dispute between the Lithuanian authorities and Gesellschaft für Nuklear Service over safety of radioactive waste transportation and storage casks.
The project is facing a financing gap of €1.5 billion for the second phase after 2014.
New power plant
There was discussion during the 1990s and 2000s of building a new nuclear power plant at the same site, forestalling the likelihood of an upcoming power shortage in the region. On February 27, 2006, at a meeting in Trakai, the Prime Ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia signed a communiqué which invited state-owned energy companies in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to invest in the design and construction of a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania. On June 28, 2007, Lithuania's parliament adopted a law on building a new nuclear power plant, the formal start of a project. On July 30, 2008, the power companies of Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, and Poland agreed to set up the Visaginas Nuclear Plant Company, which will be responsible for construction of the new power plant with a capacity of 3,000–3,200 MW. GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is selected as a strategic investor of the project.
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