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Russia taking over nuclear industry in Lithuania

Reactor shutdown opens door to Russia plans By GARY PEACH (AP) Associated Press Writer Liudas Dapkus in Vilnius, Lithuania, contributed to this report.– 23 Dec 09 ISAGINAS, Lithuania — To the European Union, Lithuania’s Soviet-built nuclear power plant is a gigantic safety hazard that needs to finally shut down this New Year’s Eve…….……the EU-ordered shutdown of the plant’s last working reactor — considered too similar to the one that exploded at Chernobyl in 1986 — is making Lithuanians uneasy. They now face the prospect of importing energy from Russia, considered an unreliable energy partner by many after its state-owned gas company shut off supplies through Ukraine last year and in 2006 over price disputes……………

The EU wanted the 1980s plant shut down as a condition of EU membership because the two RBMK-1500 model reactors are too similar to the RBMK-1000 version that exploded at Chernobyl on April 26, 1986, casting a radioactive cloud over Europe. Ignalina’s first reactor was shut down in 2004, while the second will be disconnected from the power grid an hour before midnight Dec. 31……………

Russia is ready to fill the gap, and is gearing up to build a two-reactor nuclear plant just 10 miles from the Lithuanian border in Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, wedged between Poland and Lithuania……………….The construction of a nuclear power plant is very expensive — the economic costs of waste disposal and environmental risks are huge,” said energy specialist Claudia Kemfert at the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin. “So I do not believe that all the planned projects will be realised because of economic costs………..The Russians have fast-tracked the Kaliningrad project, squeezing 4-7 years of environmental impact studies and licensing into less than two years.

Public opinion in Kaliningrad is against the project, says Alexandra Koroleyva, who heads the region’s branch of Eco-Defense, an environmental group opposed to nuclear energy. “There’s a lot of people who moved here from Chernobyl, so you’ll rarely meet someone on the street who’ll say they want an atomic power plant,” said Alexandra Koroleva.

“I hope I’m not around when it begins operating,” said resident Ivan Trutnev, 72

The Associated Press: Reactor shutdown opens door to Russia plans

December 23, 2009 - Posted by | politics international, Russia | , , ,

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