Lithuania May Keep Ignalina Nuclear Plant Open

Ignalina Nuclear Power PlantReactor 2 at Lithuania’s Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, an RBMK-1500, 1300 megawatt reactor, is currently scheduled for closure in 2009. Amid mounting pressure from its citizens, the Lithuanian government is considering breaking its agreement with the European Union to shut down the reactor.

The reactor currently supplies 70% of Lithuania’s electricity, as well as power to Latvia and Estonia. Many Lithuanian leaders and citizens want to renege on the agreement, fearing the closure will cause a problematic reliance on Russia for the country’s electricity needs.

On October 12, Lithuanians will vote in a non-binding referendum to delay the reactor’s closure. President Valdas Adamkus, an independent, opposes the referendum. However a July poll conducted by Veidas magazine showed 78.3% of respondents favored a delay, while only 9.6% were against it.

The Lithuanian government favors a delay until at least 2012, saying the closure would hurt the country’s economy. Ignalina-1, another RBMK-style reactor, was shut down on December 31, 2004 as part of Lithuania’s accession treaty.

The European Union opposes a delay, fearing the continued operation of any RBMK-style reactors, the same type involved in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Since the agreement is part of Lithuania’s 2004 accession treaty to join the European Union, any change must be discussed in an intergovernmental conference, approved by the 27 member states and ratified by their parliaments - a process that is “virtually impossible.”

A new “Baltic States” nuclear power plant, built with Western technology, will be built at the Ignalina site, but the two 1600 megawatt reactors will not be operational until 2015.

Photo courtesy of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

2 Comments

Here is some analysis on the situation about the new nuclear power plants in the Baltic region http://atomwatch.blogspot.com/2008/10/baltic-race-kalinigrad-vs-visaginas.html

Thank you for the link - an interesting look at plans for future nuclear plants in the Baltics.