Lithuania’s government has decided to stop operations at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant and immediately dismantle it. This decision was made at a cabinet session on November 20, the Lithuanian government’s press service said.
This means that the dismantling of the plant will begin immediately after it has completely stopped operating and will end in the thorough cleaning efforts on the land on which the plant’s facilities were located in order to remove any radioactive waste,” Interfax quoted the press service as saying.
The government has also considered dismantling the plant at a later time, in which case the land will be cleared of radioactive waste 35 years after the plant’s dismantling. The government has given preference to dismantling the plant immediately. Experts with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the State Inspection Lithuanian State Nuclear safety Inspectorate share this view.
Lithuania is expected to stop operations at the first unit of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant before 2005 and to fully stop the plant by 2009. This summer, Lithuania and the European Union agreed that the second unit will be stopped before 2009 if the EU provides sufficient financial support.
Negotiations are currently being conducted on the amount of this support. The EU suggests allotting 70 million Euro annually for work aimed at stopping the plant in 2004-2006, but Lithuania thinks that this amount is not enough. Lithuania is required to fully stop the plant in order to enter the EU.
The EU believes that the two Soviet-made RBMK reactors used in the plant are dangerous. The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant produces almost 75 percent of Lithuania’s electrical power.