IAEA Gave Positive Conclusion to ARTEMIS Mission in Lithuania

An Integrated Review Service for Radioactive Waste and Spent Fuel Management, Decommissioning and Remediation (ARTEMIS) review team concluded a ten-day mission to Lithuania on 25 July. The review was carried out at the request of the Lithuanian government.

ARTEMIS reviews provide independent expert assessments, which can cover all aspects and topics related to managing radioactive waste and spent fuel, decommissioning and remediation. Reviews are based on the IAEA Safety Standards, technical guidance, and international good practices.

In this case, the ARTEMIS mission evaluated the adequacy of Lithuania’s overall deep geological repository (DGR) site selection process, including timeframes, the studies prepared for each phase of the site selection process, and an assessment of the outcomes of the DGR site selection process and the prioritization of potentially suitable sites for the DGR.

In its Development Programme for Decommissioning of Nuclear Power Facilities and Radioactive Waste Management for 2021–2030, Lithuania established that the only sustainable final method of disposal of spent nuclear fuel and other long-lived radioactive waste that can be considered at the moment is its placement in a DGR.

Lithuania’s radioactive waste and spent fuel comes from the past operation and current decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant (INPP) which stopped operating in 2009, as well as from waste generated from industry, medicine and research.

The team, made of international experts and IAEA staff, said that Lithuania’s process to select a site for the country’s first DGR for spent nuclear fuel and long-lived radioactive waste is in line with international safety standards. Experts commended Lithuania for its early development and implementation of the DGR programme in particular by initiating a site selection process and actively planning for the next steps of the project.

The team also identified recommendations and suggestions to improve the process for siting the DGR, including:

  • For the Government to establish intermediate milestones until the final site selection and allocate responsibilities for decision-making through this process.
  • For INPP to develop a high-level document describing the overall site selection process
  • For the Government, with the support of INPP, to establish a formal process for public engagement as early as possible.
  • For VATESI to consider developing comprehensive guidance on geological disposal facilities in support of national requirements on siting process.

Read the full IAEA Press Release.