INPP shutdown unclear

  • 2009-01-21
  • By TBT staff and wire reports

SHUT DOWN: The CEO of the nuclear power plant at Ignalina said the government has yet to pass a law on the plant's closure.

VILNIUS - The government is dragging its feet on issues surrounding the shut down of the country's nuclear power plant, the plant's CEO told a prominent Lithuanian business journal.
The draft bill needed for closing down the second reactor of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) is still unformed and no formal decisions have as of yet been issued, be it either to continue or to halt operation of the plant, INPP CEO Viktoras Sevaldinas said.

The law on decommissioning the second INPP reactor will be proposed after fully negotiating the impending consequences as well as the Baltic links plan with the European Union, Economy Ministry officials said.
"We have been preparing for closure even without the respective law, we understand the need to get ready. It hasn't caused any trouble so far, but without the law we cannot kick-off the official procedure for dismissing personnel," Sevaldinas told business daily Verslo Zinios.
Around 2,600 people work at the plant and more than half of them stand to lose their jobs by the end of the year.

A law on decommissioning the plant's reactors is necessary by the Law on Nuclear Energy, which states that a law on halting operation is a prerequisite condition. Otherwise the Seimas and government would violate a law they themselves drafted, the CEO explained.
The government will issue the law when it sees that the situation is ready, director of the Nuclear Energy and Radioactive Waste Management Department under the Ministry of Economy told TBT.
"The closure of Ignalina is a political question. When the government thinks it is necessary, it will be done. Making the law is very easy to do," Birute Teskeviciene said.

"When we went into the EU, there was the clause that we had to shut down the first and second reactors, but there is also a fourth clause that says if the country has troubles, it can be revised. So the government is waiting," she added.
Teskeviciene believes, however, that the country will abide by its EU accession treaty and shut the plant by the end of 2009.

Even though the Lithuanian authorities are yet to officially withdraw their claim to extend operation of INPP past 2009, the deadline for pre-ordering nuclear fuel for year 2010 has already passed.
The plant is due to be shut down at the end of this year as part of Lithuania's accession agreement with the European Union.
The previous Gediminas Kirkilas-led government had been criticized for wasting time providing energy solutions for the period following the shutdown, while instead petitioning the European Commission to extend the shutdown deadline by three years.