Brazauskas to talk Ignalina in Brussels

  • 2002-10-24

Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas set out for Brussels Oct. 23 to discuss financial aid to help close Lithuania's Soviet-built Ignalina nuclear power plant, the government's information bureau said.

Brazauskas was scheduled to meet Guenter Verheugen, the European Union's top enlargement official, on Oct. 24 to discuss the closure.

In negotiations with the EU, Vilnius has committed itself to shutting down the first of the two Ignalina units by 2005 and to closing the plant completely by 2009.

But earlier this month, when adopting a new national energy strategy, the Parliament said it would not close down the plant in 2009 unless it gets adequate financial help.

The government has estimated that the total cost of decommissioning the plant could reach 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 considers the design of Ignalina's Soviet-built RBMK reactors unsafe despite some 250 million euros having been spent over improving the security during the past decade.

The reactors are similar in style to those at Chernobyl in the Ukraine, the site of the world's worst civil nuclear disaster in 1986.

Ignalina produces about 70 percent of Lithuania's energy.