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VATESI annual publication “Nuclear Power Safety in Lithuania”

State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) has issued annual publication “Nuclear Power Safety in Lithuania” representing its activities in 2020.  

Main areas of activity

Factors that influenced the activities of VATESI in 2020, were the complexity and abundance of processes of dismantling and decontamination of Ignalina NPP’s for safety insurance no more needed equipment as well as radioactive waste management, transfer of radioactive waste from Maišiagala Radioactive Waste Storage Facility to storage facilities located next to Ignalina NPP, the start of operation of Unit 1 of the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus, near Vilnius (Belarusian NPP), and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, in 2020, VATESI successfully performed its functions and implemented all the tasks and measures provided for in the strategic action plan.

VATESI properly prepared for and successfully collaborated with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) experts during the IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Follow-up Mission that was remotely organised in Lithuania at the end of 2020. The Mission experts concluded that Lithuania has made significant progress and improved the regulatory infrastructure for nuclear and radiation safety. The results of this Mission perfectly demonstrated the maturity and flexibility to changes of the Lithuanian regulation and supervision system of nuclear and radiation safety, taking into account the changing technological challenges and advanced world trends.

Licences, permits, certification

In 2020, VATESI issued 7 licences in the area of nuclear energy activities with sources of ionising radiation, 1 registration certificate of activities with sources of ionising radiation, and, based on the requests of licence holders, revoked three licences as economic entities ceased to carry out the licensed activity. Also, VATESI analysed and approved 3 applications for transportation permits of radioactive material classified as nuclear material. VATESI Certification Commission certified two persons and issued the certificates qualifying to conduct training on radiation protection. Moreover, an employee of Ignalina NPP responsible for safety was certified and qualified to work in management positions.

Supervision of economic entities

In 2020 VATESI specialists carried out 54 inspections of the activities of economic entities. During the inspections 15 violations were identified, 9 of them were minor. The violations do not have direct harmful effects on population or the environment, but are related to the prevention of such effects. All violations are being eliminated by licensees in time and properly.

Unusual events

In 2020, 7 unusual events registered at 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

As many international events planned for 2020 were rescheduled due to the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, VATESI pro-actively represented the national interests during online meetings and consultations.

VATESI engaged in activities related to preparations for the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) Review Meeting and developed answers to the questions of the Contracting Parties to the 8th Lithuanian National Report on CNS implementation, demonstrating that Lithuania undertook all the necessary measures and ensured a high level of nuclear safety both at shut-down Ignalina NPP units and spent fuel storage facilities, as well as other nuclear facilities and submitted answers to the received questions.

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.

In 2020, VATESI signed a bilateral inter-agency agreement with the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and Exchange of Information on Nuclear Facilities and Activities. VATESI experts were also active in the review of the plan for the implementation of stress test recommendations at Belarusian NPP that Belarus submitted to the ENSREG review team. During this review, Lithuania took a strong position that all the recommendations regarding the stress tests were important and had to be implemented immediately, i.e., the commissioning and operation of Belarusian NPP must be suspended until all safety recommendations have been implemented and other safety issues have been resolved.

In 2020 VATESI specialists continued works in working groups of various international organizations aimed at continuously improving the level of nuclear safety, physical security, and radiation protection in Lithuania, Europe and worldwide, exchanged experience and the best practice in nuclear activity regulation and supervision.

The publication also presents infographics on various topics related to the regulatory activities of VATESI.

VATESI Annual Report 2020