Lithuania agrees to close controversial nuclear plant

The Lithuanian government has agreed to close down a controversial Soviet-built nuclear plant at Ignalina in order to be able to conclude negotiations on energy with the EU.

Lithuania agreed to close one of the two reactors at the
Ignalina power station by 2005, and the other by 2009. The Ignalina
plant is of the same design as Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The agreement allowed Lithuania to conclude
accession negotiations on energy on 11 June. The country took the
lead in enlargement negotiations, along with Cyprus, closing 28 out
of 30 negotiation chapters.

The EU agreed to help pay for the
decommissioning of the Ignalina plant. The cost of the closure is
estimated at 2.4 billion euro. The amount of EU aid has not been
agreed yet.

The Ignalina plant provides more than 70 per
cent of Lithuania’s energy, and its closure will push up energy



The candidate countries need to improve the safety of nuclear
power plants to satisfy the criteria for EU membership. They must
also ensure that nuclear waste is handled in a responsible manner,
and prepare for the implementation of Euratom Safeguards on nuclear