Lithuania clings to nuclear power plant

Jan. 10, 2006 at 7:02 AM

VILNIUS, Lithuania, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Lithuania says it wants to delay shutting down a Soviet-era nuclear power plant until it can find another secure energy source.

Closing the Chernobyl-style Ignalina plant was a condition for Lithuania's entry into the European Union in 2004. Half of the plant already has been closed, and the second unit is scheduled to be shut down in 2009.

However, Lithuania fears being isolated if the plant is closed as scheduled, as the former Soviet republic on the Baltic Sea has few natural resources and imports all of its gas and most of its oil from Russia, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Lithuanian Economy Minister Kestutis Dauksys said the country needed to decide now whether to build another nuclear plant to replace Ignalina.

A new plant could be completed by 2013, Dauksys said, but added that he thought it would be very difficult for the country to persuade the EU that Ignalina should remain open beyond 2009.

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