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Lithuania is not happy with GNS casks' safety at Ignalina NPP

B 2/3/4
IAE nuotr. / B 2/3/4
Šaltinis: BNS

Lithuania should revise the strategy for multi-billion-litas decommissioning projects at Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP), which are being carried out by the Russian-owned German company Nukem and its partners, the acting energy minister has said on Monday.

According to Arvydas Sekmokas, there is a probability that the Lithuanian State Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) will not license nuclear fuel storage casks manufactured by Germany's GNS.

This is the message that Lithuania plans to give INPP closure donors during a conference in London this week.

"We are not satisfied with the progress on Ignalina plant's closure. Based on a preliminary assessment of the documents provided by the German manufacturer GNS regarding the suitability of its casks, we are not guaranteed that VATESI will issue the license. We are not satisfied with the safety of the casks and the entire project. Therefore, I think that the strategy for projects B1/2/3/4 needs to be overhauled," Sekmokas told BNS.

"There has been no progress since we held talks with Nukem. I think this is an important message that we will deliver during the donors' conference in London on 12-13 December," he said.

Žilvinas Jurkšus, the CEO of Ignalina NPP, could not be reached for comment by BNS on Monday evening. Asta Mensonė, the head of public relations at VATESI, told BNS that she could not make any comments at the moment.

GNS provided the documents at Ignalina plant's request in mid-November. A GNS representative, Michael Kobl, then told BNS that all casks complied with safety requirements and, therefore, were fit for use.

The media reported earlier this year that 150 out of 201 Constor RBMK-1500-type casks manufactured by GNS, Nukem's sub-contractor, were uncertified and unfit for transportation. Reportedly, it was not clear how to ensure high-quality welding of the casks' double lids and whether the concrete floor of the interim storage facility would be strong enough to hold the 118-ton casks.

It was said that GNS had manufactured 150 out of the required 200 casks, of which four had been delivered to Visaginas, a town in eastern Lithuania where Ignalina NPP is located. All those casks did not comply with the project's technical specifications and did not have the necessary certificates. Jurkšus said that Ignalina NPP had already paid for more than 70 casks.

The consortium of GNS and Nukem Technologies, which is controlled by Russia's energy giant Rosatom, is implementing multi-billion-litas decommissioning projects at Ignalina plant with much delay. The companies are building a solid radioactive waste storage facility complex and an interim spent fuel storage facility, initially estimated to cost 123 million euros and 193 million euros, respectively.

Lithuania seeks to reach an agreement with Nukem on a schedule for completing certain work as part of the solid radioactive waste storage complex project, known as B2/3/4, and on "technical issues" of the spent storage facility project, known as B1. The parties have been arguing over the soaring costs of the projects and implementation deadlines for several years now.

According to Nukem, by the end of August, Lithuania had paid 50 percent of the amount of money due for the casks, 72 percent of the amount due for the B1 project, and 36 percent of the amount due for the B2/3/4 project.

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