Unit 1 of Lithuania’s Ignalina plant was shutdown as planned on 31 December 2004 at 8pm. Agreement to the closure was a prerequisite to the country joining the European Union (EU) in May 2004.
The 1185MWe RBMK reactor was progressively powered-down before final shutdown in the evening. Ignalina’s second unit will be allowed to operate until 2009 but Unit 1’s shutdown will mean major changes for Lithuania, which until now has been dependent on nuclear for 80% of its electricity.
Ignalina exported some 14.25TWh to neighbouring countries last year earning an overall profit of 15.7 million litas (€4.5 million).
The EU, funding work as part of the shutdown deal, has set aside €200 million for decommissioning of Unit 1 while Ignalina’s total closure is expected to cost the bloc €2-3 billion over 30 years.
EU funds are also destined for Ignalina’s neighbouring town, Visaginas, to attract investment and make good use of the 200 former plant workers who would lose their jobs when Unit 1's closure is finally complete.
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