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VATESI annual publication “Nuclear Power Safety in Lithuania”

Lithuanian State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) has issued annual publication “Nuclear Power Safety in Lithuania” representing its activities in 2022. 

Main areas of activity

The priorities of VATESI activity remained the same in 2022: to supervise the safety of Ignalina NPP’s decommissioning activities and radioactive waste management, the compliance with international non-proliferation commitments undertaken by Lithuania, to consistently upgrade the framework of nuclear safety regulation and supervision, and to be prepared for potential nuclear and radiological incidents in Lithuania and neighbouring countries.

VATESI participated in accepting the Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The ARTEMIS experts had a positive opinion of the development of the radioactive waste management framework in Lithuania and the communication with stakeholders. Moreover, VATESI experts attended IAEA safety assessment missions in various fields that took place in other countries, as well as international nuclear safety meetings of various formats.

Declared a threat to Lithuania’s national security, Belarusian NPP has been operating for the second year by now. However, its erratic operation, equipment failures and the resulting unplanned outages, as well as multiple other unresolved issues to ensure safety, caused justified concerns. In order to respond to the information needs of the Lithuanian population and to protect it adequately, we assessed information on unplanned outages of Belarusian NPP, verified facts, provided information to the public, reinforced our level of emergency preparedness, as well as strengthened our interaction with other responsible authorities. VATESI has repeatedly urged the Belarusian nuclear safety regulator, the Ministry for Emergency Situations, to suspend the operation and commissioning of Units 1 and 2 of Belarusian NPP until all the nuclear safety issues identified during the stress tests, other international missions and review processes have been addressed.

Moreover, we strongly felt an ongoing public concern about security due to the military aggression in Ukraine, which is a continuous threat to the safety and security of its nuclear facilities. In various formats, VATESI condemned the actions of the aggressor country and supported the Ukrainian nuclear safety regulator (SNRIU) and its staff, as well as the staff of the Ukrainian nuclear facilities, who keep working in the extremely challenging environment in order to prevent potential incidents due to military action. Civilian nuclear installations are not designed to withstand military action, thus under no circumstances may they be targeted by or located in the area of such military action. Since the very beginning of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, VATESI experts have been continuously monitoring the situation at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, making assessments based on official information received from the IAEA and SNRIU, and informing government institutions and the general public.

Licences and permits

In 2022, VATESI issued 4 new permits to the SE Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant. These include two permits to start industrial operation of radioactive waste management facilities, one permit to transport nuclear fuel cycle material into the radioactive waste repository site and to conduct first tests with nuclear fuel cycle material there and one permit to decontaminate and dismantle equipment contaminated with radionuclides. VATESI also issued 4 licences in the area of nuclear energy activities with radiation sources to economic entities for activities in the ionising radiation environment at Ignalina NPP. During 2022, VATESI analysed and approved three applications for transportation permits of radioactive material classified as nuclear material.

Supervision of economic entity activities

In 2022, VATESI specialists carried out 56 inspections of the activities of economic entities. During the inspections 21 violations were identified, 8 of them were minor. One violation was detected when examining a safety justifying document submitted by Ignalina NPP and not at the time of inspection. The violations do not have direct harmful effects of ionising radiation on population or the environment, but are related to the prevention of such effects and therefore need to be eliminated in a timely manner in accordance with a plan of measures agreed with the VATESI. All identified violations are eliminating by agreed schedule and measures.

Unusual events

In 2022, 4 unusual events registered at nuclear facilities of Ignalina NPP were rated below the scale (0 level) on the International Nuclear Events Scale (INES) and had no impact on safety. Nuclear safety at Lithuanian nuclear power facilities is adequately ensured.

Implementation of international commitments and international cooperation

At the Seventh Review Meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management in the summer of 2022, the Contracting Parties indicated that Lithuania complied with its obligations under all the Convention provisions and adequately ensures the safety of spent fuel and radioactive waste management.

In the area of non-proliferation, Lithuania's commitments are being properly implemented – nuclear materials located in the Republic of Lithuania, dual-use nuclear items, research and development related to the nuclear fuel cycle are used only for peaceful purposes. This conclusion is based on the results of inspections carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and is stated in IAEA report on the implementation of safeguards.

VATESI Annual Report 2022