Italy's Ministry of Economic Development recently issued a decree authorising Societa Gestione Impianti Nucleari SpA (Sogin) to begin the initial phase of decommissioning the Latina nuclear power plant. The Latina plant is the last of the four Italian nuclear power plants to obtain a decommissioning decree.
After considering the opinion of the National Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ISIN) and the other competent institutions, the Ministry of Economic Development issued the decree on 20 May. ISIN is the independent regulatory authority responsible for nuclear safety and radiation protection. The decree establishes the conditions and requirements that regulate the execution of operations in the first phase of decommissioning.
The main activities envisaged during this initial phase of decommissioning concern the dismantling of the six boilers, with a total weight of over 3600 tonnes, and the lowering of the reactor building height from 53 to 38 metres. Buildings and auxiliary systems will also be dismantled. These operations are in addition to those already carried out or in progress at the plant.
By the end of this phase, all previous radioactive wastes generated through the operation of the plant or those produced by the dismantling of structures, systems and plant components will be stored safely at the site. These wastes will be stored both in a new temporary storage facility and in some specifically adapted reactor building premises. This initial phase of decommissioning the Latina plant is expected to be completed in 2027 and to cost EUR270 million (USD302 million).
With the availability of a planned national repository, it will be possible to start the second and final phase of the decommissioning of the plant with the dismantling of the graphite gas reactor. Once all the radioactive waste has been transferred to the repository and the temporary storage facilities demolished, the site will be released, without radiological restrictions, and returned to the community for its reuse.
"We are pleased with the issuance of this decree, the fifth after those obtained for the Bosco Marengo [fuel fabrication] plant and the Trino, Garigliano and Caorso [nuclear power] plants," said Sogin CEO Emanuele Fontani. "This is a crucial step for the closure of the Italian nuclear cycle, which allows us to get to the heart of the decommissioning of the Latina plant. This measure confirms the fruitful collaboration between the various institutional subjects involved in the dismantling of nuclear plants."
The Latina plant, comprising a single 210 MWe Magnox graphite gas-cooled reactor, began operating in January 1964. It was permanently shut in December 1987 as a result of the Italian referendum on nuclear power that followed the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Sogin took over ownership of the site in November 1999.