VILNIUS - Attempts to generate fresh momentum for the proposed pan-Baltic nuclear power station slated for Ignalia, Lithuania, hit a hitch Friday July 6 with the no-show of the Polish prime minister for a planned signing ceremony.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski cited pressing matters in his home country and apologised for bailing out of the showpiece signing session.
Without Kaczynski, the three Baltic prime ministers decided not to proceed and the ceremony will now be postponed until a later date. Instead, they agreed to sit down for talks about their respective shareholdings in the project, which have been causing some disagreement.
Lithuania is committed to decommissioning its Chernobyl-style Ignalina power plant by the end of 2009 and it is hoped that phase one of the replacement will be online in 2015, though several industry commentators consider this target to be optimistic.
Construction costs are currently estimated at up to 4 billion euros, though once again, opinions differ as to the accuracy of this figure.
Opposition to the project is also starting to come from environmental groups, who have so far remained relatively quiet on the matter.
A coalition of Baltic environmental groups which includes the Estonian Green Movement, Latvian Green Movement, Green Liberty, Atgaja Community, CEE Bankwatch Network and Greenpeace Poland are protesting that the decisions to forge ahead with the project were taken without due consultation and public debate. The group delivered a petition to all four of the governments involved in the project July 6.
"The viability of the project has not been publicly proven. Making the viability study public has been included in the coalition agreement and also environmental associations have insisted on its publication," said Taavi Nuum of the Estonian Green Movement.
Nuum observed that neither Estonia's fuel and energy development plan nor the electricity sphere development plan mention nuclear energy.