Ignalina reactors to close only with EU aid: Parliament

  • 2002-10-17

Lithuania's Parliament said Oct. 10 that the country might not close its Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear power plant in 2009 as promised unless it gets "adequate" financial assistance from the European Union.

In talks on EU membership, Lithuania has promised to close the first of the Chernobyl-style plant's two units by 2005 and the rest in 2009 in its bid to join in 2004.

The Parliament has the final say on the closure date.

Under a national energy strategy adopted by Lithuanian legislators on Oct. 10, the plant's life could be extended beyond 2009 unless the aid is forthcoming.

The government has estimated that the total cost of closure could be up to 3 billion euros.

This year the EU earmarked 70 million euros a year in funding over the 2004-2006 period to help the closure. A further 200 million euros were pledged during an international donor conference in 2000.

The EU says Ignalina's Soviet-built RBMK reactors, similar to those at Chernobyl, the site of the world's worst civil nuclear disaster, are inherently unsafe.

Some 250 million euros have been spent on improving security there over the past decade.

Ignalina produces about 70 percent of Lithuania's energy.

The new national energy strategy also provides for the possibility of building a new nuclear plant in Lithuania.

"With an aim of remaining a nuclear energy state, Lithuania will legally, financially and politically support the investments into the construction of a new nuclear unit or reactor, using the infrastructure of Ignalina," the strategy said.