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«IAEA-TECDOC-1553 Low and Intermediate Level Waste Repositories: Socioeconomic Aspects and Public Involvement Proceedings of a workshop held in ...»

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Lithuania has accumulated large quantities of LILW from operation of INPP. Since the beginning of INPP operation in 1984 all radioactive wastes are stored in storage facilities at INPP site. In the Strategy on Radioactive Waste Management approved by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in 2002 [1] it is envisaged to construct new repositories for radioactive waste and to retrieve, characterize and condition the short lived radioactive waste accumulated at INPP storage facilities. The Strategy also emphasizes the necessity of getting ready for the management of radioactive waste which will result from INPP decommissioning. A capacity of about 100 000 m3 is needed for the disposal of both the operational and decommissioning wastes. In order to implement provisions of the Strategy, RATA started to prospect for a site suitable for NSR. An area survey and preliminary site characterization were performed in 2003. The objectives of these studies were to analyze Lithuanian legal requirements, to summarize the international experience, to exclude areas which are not acceptable in terms of multiple ecological, land-use and technical criteria, to determine regions most suitable for NSR, and to select and preliminarily characterize several candidate sites.


A generic conceptual reference design to be applied in Lithuania was developed after scrutinizing the design and operational experience of the existing NSR worldwide [2]. Two options were considered. In the first option disposal vaults are to be located above the ground water table, in the second option they are to be located below it. In both options barriers of low permeability are to be used to prevent water from entering into the repository. The first option was eventually chosen for the reference design. This reference design is applicable to the needs in Lithuania, considering its geological, climatic, hydrogeological and other environmental conditions. After filling with waste packages, the concrete vaults will be covered with concrete roofs. The vaults and the clay liners will be adequately protected from harmful atmospheric impact until the final closure of the repository.


The INPP region consists of Visaginas, Zarasai and Ignalina districts. The choice of the repository’s area in the immediate vicinity of INPP is restricted by its proximity to the state border, Visaginas town, Lake Drūkšiai and protected areas. Due to the existing sociopsychological stereotypes, the most favourable environment for the search of sites suitable for the repository is in the territory of Visaginas municipality or the territory within a 30-km radius of INPP.

The region’s social importance is characterized by very sharp contrasts in social development of the population. The area of INPP can be described as that of a deep, long demographic crisis and the lowest income of the population in the country (if Visaginas and INPP are not to be taken into consideration), and at the same time as the area of the most favourable natural demographic processes and the highest level of income in Visaginas and at the INPP. It should be noted that the region is of great importance in terms of multicultural development as a place where different cultures meet and interact.

The economic importance of the area is viewed ambiguously due to incompatible lines of economic development that was formed during the Soviet times. On the one hand, the region has energy potential of extremely great national (and trans-national) importance. On the other hand, the region is of negligible importance in the country’s economy in terms of industry and traditional bioproduction (with the exception of forestry): it provides only 0.5% of the country’s industrial production, 1-2% of agricultural production, and attracts only 1.4% of investments. However, the region has immense potential of tourism and recreational resources. It has been for quite a while one of the most important areas of Lithuania’s recreation industry and used to enjoy international fame that it is regaining again.

Three potential sites, Galilaukė, Apvardai and Visaginas (Fig. 3.1), were selected after the integration of the results of negative screening.

After the comparison of available information it was preliminary concluded that the ridge in Galilaukė village has the most favourable conditions for the repository and hills northwest of Lake Apvardai is the second-best potential candidate. Both sites are located in Ignalina district. The last site, that at Visaginas, was later rejected because it is already occupied by other waste management facilities.

Fig. 3.1. Preliminarily investigated candidate sites and communication routes [3]


It was preliminary concluded that Galilaukė in Ignalina district is candidate No. 1 to host the repository [3]. The potential site is located on a large ridge with a sloping earth surface and excellent water run-off conditions for rain- and melt-water. Galilaukė site comprises an elongated, 10-15-m-high, flat-topped hill, underlain by a 50-odd-m-thick layer of sandy till.

The high soil density indicated by the general geotechnical survey suggests good slope stability, and the area will probably remain stable for a long time. Tributaries to Lake Drūkšiai and the lake itself ensure fast surface run-off and good dilution conditions.

Galilaukė site is situated 4 km southeast of INPP, 9 km east of Visaginas, 11 km northeast of Rimšė and 2.5 km northeast of Gaidė village. The site is 0.6 km away from Lake Drūkšiai, 0.7 km west of the Drūkša River and the national border with Belarus.

The distances to the nearest larger settlements of Belarus are as follows: 4 km to Drisviaty, 3km to Grytuny and Gireyshi, 18 km to Vidzy, and 26 km to Braslav. The distance to the nearest protected territories in Lithuania is 8-10 km, and some 20 km to the Braslav National Park in Belarus. The distance to the nearest Lithuanian–Latvian border crossing point is 11.5 km. There are no major settlements in the vicinity of the border on the Latvian side.

The social importance of the area is negligible due to small population density and its demographic condition. The area is also of little importance in terms of economy, as it is used for extensive agriculture of natural type. The recreational value of the area is very low owing to the lack of conditions and resources, although favourable possibilities exist for recreational activities on a local scale in the adjacent areas.

After consideration of possible environmental impact it was concluded [4] that the NSR could be built at Galilaukė. If the repository were constructed at Galilaukė site, the neighbouring countries would not be affected [4]. Galilaukė site is deemed to be preferable to Apvardai site.

Also, Galilaukė, being not too far from and not too close to Ignalina NPP and a short distance away from the existing railway, is a particularly favourable place for the repository. Galilaukė is remote enough from the INPP and leaves space for other activities related with decommissioning or possible construction of new reactors. The proximity to the railway gives possibility to transport building materials. The railway could be considered as an alternative for waste transportation on roads.



According to the national legal requirements, the site for a radioactive waste repository has to be selected in compliance with the provisions of the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment. The decision on suitability of the sites has to be taken after a comprehensive analysis of economic, social, technical and safety-related aspects. In 2004 RATA contracted the Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI) and the Institute of Geology and Geography (GGI) to perform the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for construction of NSR. The main goal of the EIA was to assess the suitability of the two, Galilaukė and Apvardai, sites identified in the previous studies. The results of integrated investigations are presented in Report [4]. It was concluded in the EIA Report that the NSR could be constructed at any of the candidate sites [4]. Due to better hydrological, hydrogeological, and geological conditions, as well as more favourable social economic environment Galilaukė site is preferable. In both cases expected individual doses would be below the dose limits, and the population of Lithuania and the neighbouring countries would not be affected.

A public hearing was organized to discuss the draft EIA Report. Local population in principle was not against construction of NSR. The draft Report was agreed by all responsible state and municipal institutions. The Council of Ignalina district stated that of the two construction sites proposed in the EIA Report, the one at Galilaukė is preferable. However, the Council also indicated that construction of new nuclear facilities, no matter how indispensable, would have a negative impact on the overall social and economic environment throughout Ignalina district. It would also result in psychological discomfort, deterioration of real estate values and investment potential; it would also negatively affect recreation and tourism, the main businesses in the region, and will increase the need for human and financial resources for social healthcare. Therefore, before beginning to implement other activities related to the NSR, a compensation package has to be prepared. Ignalina Municipality Council asked to implement various socioeconomical development measures for the region which worth more than 90 MUSD. Those measures related to improvement of infrastructure, like building roads, but some of them are not relevant to the NSR at all.


While implementing requirements of the ESPOO Convention and the Joint Convention on safety of spent fuel management and safety of radioactive waste management, the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment sent preliminary information to Latvia and Belarus about environmental impact assessment of construction of NSR at Galilaukė and Apvardai sites.

Several meetings were held in Latvia and Lithuania to discuss NSR construction plans. In July 2005 meeting in Daugavpils was held with the minister of environment of Latvia and officials of Daugavpils municipality. This city has more than 100 thousands inhabitants and is located less than 30 km from INPP. Later in September 2005 in Kraslava city of Latvia another one meeting was held with representatives of association “Euroregion Country of lakes”. The closest municipalities of three countries Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus formed an association with a name of “Euroregion Country of lakes”. Issues related with Ignalina NPP are of interest to this association as well. Despite that information on safety aspects of NSR was provided with the conclusion that neighbouring countries would not be affected, official reaction from the politicians of Latvia and Belarus was negative. In the articles in the press of those countries appeared information that in response to Lithuania’s plans to construct NSR, Latvia and Belarus will consider possibility to construct other dangerous objects also close to the borders. Parliament of Belarus officially addressed Lithuanian parliament with request not to construct NSR close to the state border. In order to provide more information on safety features of NSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania invited observers from both countries to take part in the peer review mission of the NSR site evaluation programme which is being organized by IAEA under the request of Lithuania. This mission will be held on 12December 2005. The objective of this peer review is to provide - on the basis of international safety standards and applicable national standards - an independent assessment of the safety of the considered sites and feasibility of the proposed reference design and its adequacy to the local conditions. This peer review should inform RATA whether its programme is consistent with international standards and consistent with good practice from other national disposal programmes. The final decision on the NSR site will be done by Lithuanian Government in 2006 taking into account recommendation of this peer review mission as well as social and political considerations.


[1] Strategy on Radioactive Waste Management approved by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, Valstybės žinios (Official Gazette), No. 15-567, 2002.

[2] Reference Design for a Near-Surface Repository for Low-and Intermediate-Level Short lived Radioactive Waste in Lithuania. SKB-SWECO International-Westinghouse Atom Joint Venture. LT NSR Final Project Report, 2002.

[3] Identification of Candidate Sites for a Near-Surface Repository for Radioactive Waste, RATA, LGT, GGI, LEI, Report, 2004.

[4] Environmental Impact Assessment Report for Construction of a Near-Surface Repository, Lithuanian Energy Institute and Institute of Geology and Geography, Version 4, 2005-03-14 (in Lithuanian).

Developing and operating repositories for low and intermediate level waste in Norway T.E. Bøe Radioactive Waste, Institute for Energy Technology, Norway Abstract Norway has only one nuclear power plant and a few other radioactive waste generators. The lessons learned from the development, use, and retrieval of a near surface repository is summarized. Also, the planning, assessment, public acceptance, licensing, construction, and operation of the current geologic repository are described. The conclusions derived from comparing both projects are provided.


Old repositories – lessons learned In the late 1960’s, the radioactive waste storage capacity was becoming a challenge all over Europe. European experts, including Norwegians, investigated the possibility of dumping radioactive waste in Biscaya (ocean disposal). The conclusion was that this was safe and acceptable.

Preparation to ship waste from Norway was started, but the plan was not accepted by public opinion and in the end the Ministry of Fishing stopped the process, by saying it was not acceptable for a fishing nation to drop waste in the ocean.

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