Adamkus questions closure deadline

3 April 2002

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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