Valdas Adamkus, the Lithuanian president, has said his country "is not capable" of shutting down the Ignalina plant by 2009.
His comments came after Danish prime minister Anders Fogh-Rasmussen — whose country takes over the rotating EU presidency in the second half of the year — said that Ignalina must be closed by then. Rasmussen also warned that a firm date for closure "is crucial for a positive outcome of negotiations" between Lithuania and the EU, which Lithuania hopes to join.
Lithuania has pledged to close unit 1 by 2005, but has yet to decide on a date for unit 2. Adamkus said that Lithuania should only consider decommissioning the plant if the EU picked up the majority of the clean-up costs and helped with the replacement of lost generating capacity. The plant produces 70% of the country's electricity.
A parliamentary commission for the problems of the Ignalina region has said that closure is not possible before 2013. Kazimiera Prunskiene, the head of the Seimas (parliament), said: "After shutting down the first reactor at the beginning of 2005, the second one should not be taken out of operation before 2013-2015." She said that the EU did not consult experts when proposing the 2009 closure date, but made a political decision instead.
International donors and the European Commission have already pledged more than 200 million Euros for the closure of unit 1, and Lithuania and the EC recently signed a memorandum on another 50 million Euros for decommissioning costs.
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