Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

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The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is a closed two-unit RBMK
RBMK
RBMK is an initialism for the Russian reaktor bolshoy moshchnosti kanalniy which means "High Power Channel-type Reactor", and describes a class of graphite-moderated nuclear power reactor which was built in the Soviet Union. The RBMK reactor was the type involved in the Chernobyl disaster...

-1500 nuclear power station in Visaginas
Visaginas
Visaginas is a city with municipal rights in eastern Lithuania, situated near the country's biggest lake, Drūkšiai. Its administrative boundaries are in the process of being defined. The Vilnius–Daugavpils railway runs alongside the town, providing convenient communication with Vilnius and...

, Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. It was named after the nearby city of Ignalina
Ignalina
Ignalina is a city in eastern Lithuania, famous for the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Visaginas. It is said that Ignalina name got its name from Ignas and Lina, two lovers with quite popular Lithuanian names. Even though there are archeological evidences that people lived in Ignalina area...

. Due to the plant's similarities to the failed Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant or Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a decommissioned nuclear power station near the city of Pripyat, Ukraine, northwest of the city of Chernobyl, from the Ukraine–Belarus border, and about north of Kiev. Reactor 4 was the site of the Chernobyl disaster in...

 in both reactor design and lack of a robust containment building
Containment building
A containment building, in its most common usage, is a steel or reinforced concrete structure enclosing a nuclear reactor. It is designed, in any emergency, to contain the escape of radiation to a maximum pressure in the range of 60 to 200 psi...

, Lithuania agreed to close the plant as part of its accession agreement to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

. 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.

Reactors


The Ignalina nuclear power plant contained two RBMK
RBMK
RBMK is an initialism for the Russian reaktor bolshoy moshchnosti kanalniy which means "High Power Channel-type Reactor", and describes a class of graphite-moderated nuclear power reactor which was built in the Soviet Union. The RBMK reactor was the type involved in the Chernobyl disaster...

-1500 water-cooled graphite
Graphite
The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

-moderated
Neutron moderator
In nuclear engineering, a neutron moderator is a medium that reduces the speed of fast neutrons, thereby turning them into thermal neutrons capable of sustaining a nuclear chain reaction involving uranium-235....

 channel-type power reactors
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

. The Soviet-designed RBMK-1500 reactor was originally the most powerful reactor in the world with an electrical power capacity of 1,500 megawatt
Watt
The watt is a derived unit of power in the International System of Units , named after the Scottish engineer James Watt . The unit, defined as one joule per second, measures the rate of energy conversion.-Definition:...

s (MW) and thermal power capacity of 4,800 MW, but this distinction was later superseded by other nuclear reactors elsewhere. After the Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 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
Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant or Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant is a decommissioned nuclear power station near the city of Pripyat, Ukraine, northwest of the city of Chernobyl, from the Ukraine–Belarus border, and about north of Kiev. Reactor 4 was the site of the Chernobyl disaster in...

, 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
RBMK
RBMK is an initialism for the Russian reaktor bolshoy moshchnosti kanalniy which means "High Power Channel-type Reactor", and describes a class of graphite-moderated nuclear power reactor which was built in the Soviet Union. The RBMK reactor was the type involved in the Chernobyl disaster...

 was noticed for the first time. The graphite moderated tips on the control rods, which partially caused the Chernobyl accident, were entered in to 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
Boron
Boron is the chemical element with atomic number 5 and the chemical symbol B. Boron is a metalloid. Because boron is not produced by stellar nucleosynthesis, it is a low-abundance element in both the solar system and the Earth's crust. However, boron is concentrated on Earth by the...

 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.

History


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
Eastern European Time
Eastern European Time is one of the names of UTC+02:00 time zone, 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. It is used in some European countries that also use Eastern European Summer Time as a summer daylight saving time.- Usage :...

 (21:00 UTC
Coordinated Universal Time
Coordinated Universal Time is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is one of several closely related successors to Greenwich Mean Time. Computer servers, online services and other entities that rely on having a universally accepted time use UTC for that purpose...

). 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. It 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
Visaginas
Visaginas is a city with municipal rights in eastern Lithuania, situated near the country's biggest lake, Drūkšiai. Its administrative boundaries are in the process of being defined. The Vilnius–Daugavpils railway runs alongside the town, providing convenient communication with Vilnius and...

 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
Lake Drukšiai
Lake Drūkšiai, also called Lake Drysviaty or Lake Drysvyaty, or Drisvyaty is a lake located partly in the northeastern part of Lithuania and partly in the Vitebsk Voblast, in Belarus. The lake water was used to cool the reactors of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant.The greatest depth of the lake is...

 (part of which lies in neighbouring Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

) which provided the plant's cooling water. The temperature of the lake has risen by about 3°C (5.4°F), causing eutrophication
Eutrophication
Eutrophication or more precisely hypertrophication, is the movement of a body of water′s trophic status in the direction of increasing plant biomass, by the addition of artificial or natural substances, such as nitrates and phosphates, through fertilizers or sewage, to an aquatic system...

. The plant's discharges of radionuclides and heavy metals
Heavy metals
A heavy metal is a member of a loosely-defined subset of elements that exhibit metallic properties. It mainly includes the transition metals, some metalloids, lanthanides, and actinides. Many different definitions have been proposed—some based on density, some on atomic number or atomic weight,...

 have accumulated in lake waters and sediments.

Its spent fuel was placed in CASTOR and CONSTOR
CONSTOR
CONSTOR is a cask used for transport and long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste manufactured by Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service. Its inner and outer layers are steel, enclosing a layer of concrete....

 storage casks during the 2000s.

In 2005, Lithuanian authorities told that Russian agent Vladimir Alganov
Vladimir Alganov
Vladimir Alganov is a Russian spy. He was Soviet KGB officer in Warsaw, Poland in the 1980s and Russian SVR officer in the same city in the 1990s.In 1996, Poland's Prime Minister Józef Oleksy resigned because of his links to Alganov....

—earlier deported from Poland—had been granted a Lithuanian visa for some reason and he had met managers of Ignalina in 2003.

Incidents


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 preventative maintenance in June, instead of August 29–September 27 as originally scheduled.

Shutdown


As a condition of entry into the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, Lithuania agreed in 1999 to close existing units of the station, citing the Ignalina plant's lack of a containment building
Containment building
A containment building, in its most common usage, is a steel or reinforced concrete structure enclosing a nuclear reactor. It is designed, in any emergency, to contain the escape of radiation to a maximum pressure in the range of 60 to 200 psi...

 as a high risk. The European Union agreed to pay €820 million decommissioning
Nuclear decommissioning
Nuclear decommissioning is the dismantling of a nuclear power plant and decontamination of the site to a state no longer requiring protection from radiation for the general public...

 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
Lithuanian nuclear power referendum, 2008
A referendum on extending the operation of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant was held in Lithuania on 12 October 2008, despite the fact that Lithuania is obliged to close down Ignalina per its treaty of accession to the European Union...

 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
Valdas Adamkus
Valdas Adamkus was President of Lithuania from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2004 to 2009.In Lithuania, the President's tenure lasts for five years; Adamkus' first term in office began on February 26, 1998 and ended on February 28, 2003, following his defeat by Rolandas Paksas in the next...

 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
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 growth by 1–1.5%, and increase inflation by 1%. Ignalina's production will be compensated for by production of the fossil fuel
Fossil fuel
Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years...

 Elektrėnai Power Plant
Elektrenai Power Plant
The Elektrėnai Power Plant or Lithuania Power Plant is an 1,800-MW electrical generating station near Elektrėnai, Lithuania, about west of Lithuania's capital, Vilnius. It is operated by Lietuvos Elektrinė, a subsidiary of Lietuvos Energija....

 as well as by imports from Russia, Latvia
Latvia
Latvia , officially the Republic of Latvia , is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by Estonia , to the south by Lithuania , to the east by the Russian Federation , to the southeast by Belarus and shares maritime borders to the west with Sweden...

, Estonia
Estonia
Estonia , officially the Republic of Estonia , is a state in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia , and to the east by Lake Peipsi and the Russian Federation . Across the Baltic Sea lies...

, Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, and Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

. 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
Dalia Grybauskaitė
Dalia Grybauskaitė is the current President of Lithuania, inaugurated on 12 July 2009. She had previously been Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Finance Minister, and European Commissioner for Financial Programming and the Budget...

 issued reassuring statements in late 2009.

Decommissioning


Ignalina NPP decommissioning project includes decommissioning of Unit 1 and 2 and auxiliary facilities
Auxiliary
Auxiliary may refer to:* A backup site or system* Auxiliary input jack, generally for audio* Auxiliary verb* International auxiliary language* Auxiliary police* Auxiliaries, troops supporting the main force of an army** Auxiliaries...

. 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
Brownfield land
Brownfield sites are abandoned or underused industrial and commercial facilities available for re-use. Expansion or redevelopment of such a facility may be complicated by real or perceived environmental contaminations. Cf. Waste...

").

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
Safety
Safety is the state of being "safe" , the condition of being protected against physical, social, spiritual, financial, political, emotional, occupational, psychological, educational or other types or consequences of failure, damage, error, accidents, harm or any other event which could be...

 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.

Financing


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
    Spent nuclear fuel
    Spent nuclear fuel, occasionally called used nuclear fuel, is nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor...

     storage facility
    Storage
    Storage may refer to:-Storage of goods:* Warehouse, a commercial building for storage of goods* Self storage, public storage facility-Containers:* Dry cask storage, storing high-level radioactive waste* Food storage...

    , radioactive waste
    Radioactive waste
    Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...

     management, and storage facilities and repositories.
  • €50 million for funding of strategic energy projects.


Strategic energy projects financed by the European Union includes construction of the new unit at the Elektrėnai Power Plant
Elektrenai Power Plant
The Elektrėnai Power Plant or Lithuania Power Plant is an 1,800-MW electrical generating station near Elektrėnai, Lithuania, about west of Lithuania's capital, Vilnius. It is operated by Lietuvos Elektrinė, a subsidiary of Lietuvos Energija....

.

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
Atomstroyexport
Atomstroyexport is the Russian Federation's nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly. It belongs to Atomenergoprom holding with 49.8% of shares owned by Gazprombank...

. 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.

Gesellschaft für Nuklear Service
Gesellschaft für Nuklear Service
The Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH carries out services in the field of radioactive waste disposal and decommissioning of nuclear facilities and operates through several subsidiaries interim storage depots for spent fuel and radioactive waste as in Gorleben and Ahaus...

is responsible for transporting storing the radioactive material from the water tanks at Ignalina's units.

Controversies


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
Trakai
Trakai is a historic city and lake resort in Lithuania. It lies 28 km west of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. Because of its proximity to Vilnius, Trakai is a popular tourist destination. Trakai is the administrative centre of Trakai district municipality. The town covers 11.52 km2 of...

, 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
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is a provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services. It is located in Wilmington, N.C.. Established in June 2007, GEH is a global nuclear alliance created by General Electric and Hitachi...

is selected as a strategic investor of the project.

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