Ignalina closure date agreed

3 August 2002

LITHUANIA The Lithuanian government has approved a revised energy strategy that calls for the closure of Ignalina 2 in 2009, provided that the European Union (EU) finances the shutdown. The energy plan - which must still be ratified by parliament - follows the provisional closure agreement with the EU, and the signing of a $125 million decommissioning agreement.

Ignalina plant management will now begin preparing tender offers for three projects to be financed by the money. The projects include work related to a "heat and steam plant"; spent fuel storage; and a technical archive for decommissioning projects. Donors include the EU, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, eight EU countries, Norway and Poland. The EBRD said the funds are also available to finance initial work towards non-nuclear energy projects.

Lithuania is in the final stages of EU accession negotiations, and the closure date of the plant has been a major sticking point. The Lithuanians had already agreed to close unit 1 in 2005 as a condition of beginning negotiations. Agreement on the shutdown of unit 2 was needed for the country to be eligible for the "first wave" of new EU member states in 2004.

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