The decision to close Ignalina NPP has significantly increased the urgency for a repository for low- and intermediate-level waste in Lithuania. It is generally considered necessary to have a licensed repository in operation before dismantling activities are initiated in order to avoid large and unnecessary costs for interim storage of waste. In the frame of bilateral cooperation with Sweden, consortium of three Swedish companies SKB-SWECO International-Westinghouse Atom developed and in the year 2002 presented to RATA reference design of a near surface repository in Lithuania. This reference design is applicable to the needs of Lithuania, considering its hydro-geological, climatic and other environmental conditions and is able to cover the expected needs in Lithuania for at least twenty years ahead. The basic principles for the proposed reference design are location above the ground water, foundation on firm basis, rock, densified sand or equivalent, a hill-type construction with vaults and engineered low-permeable clay based barrier consisting of smectitic clay of sedimentary origin covered by a surface barrier. The engineered barriers consist of the waste matrix, the waste packagings, the disposal container outer concrete, backfill between disposal containers, concrete cells surrounded by low-permeable clay-based material, all covered by long-lasting surface barrier with an erosion-resisting top. Water will be drained off by the surface barrier and collected in run-off ditches. The proposed reference design was accepted by authorities as a basis for further development of the repository in Lithuania. In the overall plan for the implementation of the repository prepared by RATA it is foreseen that repository should be in licensed operation in the year of 2011 depending on financing provided. The total cost of the repository project is estimated to be in the order of 140–240 MEUR. This year RATA is starting site selection phase which consists of area survey, regional mapping, screening, site characterisation and site confirmation.

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