Lithuanian Economy Minister Eugenijus Gentvilas had already signed the agreement on behalf of the Lithuanian government.
"Today's meeting is a clear sign that the implementation of the decommissioning program has already started, and the European Union and other donors are willingly helping Lithuania. We are especially glad that from this day as many as 11 countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom – have joined the EU support fund, and several other countries have expressed a wish to join it in the near future," said Matthias Ruete, chairman of the donor assembly.
With the signing of the agreement, the EBRD-administered decommissioning support fund was formally launched, which is a necessary step before funds contributed by the EU, G7 countries and other international donors for the plant's closure projects can be used.
During the donors' conference in Vilnius last year, the European Union and donor countries pledged to contribute more than 200 million euros ($180.18 million) to help finance projects related to the closure of the first unit, with 165 million euros to be allotted directly from the EU budget.
"We are happy that the international community has joined the process of decommissioning the Ignalina nuclear power plant. Support provided by the fund should ensure a safe closure and decommissioning of the plant. In this process, Lithuania will base itself on the national energy strategy", said Deputy Economy Minister Rimantas Vaitkus, who represented Lithuania at the donor assembly.
Lithuania has committed to shutting down the first of Ignalina's two reactors by 2005. The Lithuanian government has not set a date for the closure of the second reactor yet. The European Commission has said the second unit should be closed by 2009.
Ignalina's two operational Soviet-built reactors are considered generally unsafe. The first rector started operations in 1984, and the second unit was launched in 1987.
Ignalina nuclear power plant Director General Viktoras Sevaldinas and the EBRD nuclear security subdivision Director Vince Novak signed April 5 the first agreement on support for paying for decommissioning project management, the engineering services of the nuclear power plant and the licensing of the decommissioning.