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Monday, October 13, 2008

Lithuania nuclear referendum fails over poor turnout

A referendum to postpone the closure of Lithuania's only nuclear power plant until 2012 has failed to reach the required turnout of 50%, the country's Central Election Commission said.

Only 47.6% of voters cast their vote on Sunday during a nationwide referendum on extending the life of the Soviet-era nuclear power station, which provides 70% of Lithuania's electricity. Some 88.7% of the voters that did turn out supported the decision.

The Ignalina nuclear power plant is of a similar design to the power plant that exploded in 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine.

Lithuania decommissioned the Ignalina plant's first power-generating unit in 2004 as part of a deal to join the EU, and pledged to shut down the second reactor by late 2009, in line with EU nuclear safety requirements.

The replacement for Ignalina, due to be built as part of a $3-4 billion joint project with Poland, Estonia and Latvia is unlikely to be ready before 2015. Lithuania is reluctant to close the plant and increase its reliance on Russia for energy before its replacement can be commissioned.

(Source: RIA Novosti)

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