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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lithuania sets out to persuade EU on Ignalina nuclear power plant

Lithuania hopes to persuade the European Union to extend the life of its only nuclear power plant through a national referendum. Community organizations and political parties are set to begin collecting the 300,000 signatures needed to hold the fall referendum to delay the closing of the Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear power plant in north-central Lithuania until 2015. If Lithuanians approve, it would give negotiators some leverage in Brussels, said former Prime Minister Aleksandras Abisala, who spearheads the Baltic country's efforts to negotiate an energy deal with the EU. Otherwise, "it would be a total disaster," he said, according to Baltic News Service (BNS). Ignalina's remaining reactor is due to be shut down at the end of next year, an undertaking Lithuania made when it joined the EU in 2004. If the signature drive succeeds, the referendum may be held together with parliamentary elections in October, the leader of Social Democratic Union Arvydas Akstinavicius told BNS. Lithuania, along with Estonia, Latvia and Poland, plan to build a new nuclear power plant, but the project has been ridden by delays. After the shutdown, the small Baltic country would depend on Russia for its energy amidst fears the Kremlin might use its economic leverage to exert political pressure in the former Soviet republic.
Source: The Earth Times

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