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Baltic or Visaginas: Will any of the two nuclear neighbor-competitor plants get built?


http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2014-04-baltic-visaginas-will-two-nuclear-neighbor-competitor-plants-get-built  

VILNIUS—As the Lithuanian government has it, Russia’s halting its Baltic Nuclear Power Plant project in Kaliningrad Region is a result of Moscow’s failure to secure prospects of exporting the station’s energy and synchronizing the regional grid with that of Europe, but, says Vilnius, Lithuania – where politicians, against public disapproval, still have their sights set on a new reactor in Visaginas – should be able to avoid making the same mistakes. April 14, 2014 by Andrei Ozharovsky   This article was translated by Maria Kaminskaya.  idc.moscow@gmail.com

VILNIUS—As the Lithuanian government has it, Russia’s halting its Baltic Nuclear Power Plant project in Kaliningrad Region is a result of Moscow’s failure to secure prospects of exporting the station’s energy and synchronizing the regional grid with that of Europe, but, says Vilnius, Lithuania – where politicians, against public disapproval, still have their sights set on a new reactor in Visaginas – should be able to avoid making the same mistakes.

Kaliningrad Region “has no link connecting its power lines with Poland, and no guarantees that they will be able to deliver electric power to Lithuania [and] other countries, and building such a powerful site and producing energy in a situation where it can’t be sold to anyone would, I think, be a huge risk for [Russia],” Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said in early April in a conversation with the national radio station LRT, the Baltic portal DELFI reported (in Russian).

Butkevičius said that “anyone familiar with the energy system that exists in Kaliningrad Region understands that after building a [nuclear power plant] they will have to install power lines to provide for transport of electric power to other countries.” And there is, Butkevičius added, another problem still in Kaliningrad Region’s energy system: “according to my information, […] they need to upgrade the domestic power lines as well, since these are worn out,” the prime minister said.

Russia’s project of a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Kaliningrad Region – a Russian territory bordered by the Baltic Sea in the west, Lithuania in the north and east, and Poland in the south, with Belarus lying further to the east – was aimed from the start at selling energy for export to neighboring states: The amount of power that the future Baltic NPP would produce – two units equipped with VVER-1200 reactors to a combined capacity of 2,300 megawatts – is well in excess of the region’s own needs. According to a late March report by the Russian daily Kommersant (in Russian), the region’s peak demand is 827 megawatts.

But all attempts by Russia to land power delivery contracts with potential customers in the European Union – first and foremost, Lithuania and Poland – fell flat, much like the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom’s negotiations to secure investment funds or loans from energy and banking heavyweights in Europe.

Late last May, news reports broke saying that work at the site in Kaliningrad’s Neman District, where construction started in 2010, had been halted, and that Rosatom was considering an alternative option of building small- and medium-capacity reactors at the site. In an extensive interview given to the popular radio station Ekho Moskvy last June Rosatom head Sergei Kiriyenko admitted the re-planning would cause construction to “definitely halt for a year to two years,” and, possibly, longer.

According to Lithuanian Prime Minister Butkevičius, Vilnius so far has no official confirmation of Russia’s decision to give up its project in Kaliningrad……….

…against the will of their voters

In October 2012, over 62% of votes cast in a national advisory referendum, held alongside  parliamentary elections, said “no” to building a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania……..

In a comment given to Bellona in early April, Linas Vainius, of the Lithuanian environmental organization Atgaja, said that “the referendum incurs explicit legal obligations, and decisions by the parliament should have followed which did not follow.”

“It is unbecoming of democratic parties and a democratic country of the European Union to negate and trample on a decision of their citizens that they expressed in a referendum. And this was a clear decision – ‘no’ to a new nuclear power plant,” Vainius said.

“As we see, the people’s representatives do not – or will not – understand and respect the will of the public. No wonder, given that the public is only remembered when the time comes to rise, with its help, to the height of power,” a statement by Lithuania’s environmental movement Association Žali.ltpublished last October, said in response to the government’s continued attempts, over the year that had passed since the referendum, to push for the Visaginas construction.

“Those in power could gain back the respect of the public if they stopped listening to tall tales on the order of those told by [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin about the flourishing future of nuclear power, and if they stuck their heads from behind the dusty walls of the past, before the death knell is rung on this energy sector,” the statement read, referring to another nuclear project underway in the region – the two-unit Belarusian NPP, which is being built to a Rosatom-developed project near Ostrovets in Lithuania’s neighbor Belarus, close to the Lithuanian border.

All three NPP construction plans sparked a wide-scale cross-border activist campaign fighting to preserve the nuclear-free status of the region and uniting the efforts of political, environmental, and other NGOs from Russia, Lithuania, and Belarus in anti-nuclear initiatives and protest actions.

“The world – not just the regions affected by the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters – is fast distancing itself from this Cold War technology, which is not improving at all, but only becoming more expensive,” Žali.lt said in its statement.

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August 25, 2017 - Posted by | EUROPE, politics

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