Lithuania in the News
10th January 2010
Nuclear Power Era in Lithuania Comes to an End
The Ignalina nuclear power station on the shores of Lake Drūkšiai. Photo courtesy
Lithuania’s nuclear power plant at Ignalina in Lithuania’s North East was finally powered down and switched off on December 31, 2009. Lithuania had agreed to do this by the end of 2009 as a condition of its entry into the European Union.
With two 1,500 MW reactors the Ignalina power station had been at one time the most powerful nuclear power plant in the world. It generated about 74% of Lithuania’s electricity needs, which made Lithuania the country with the second highest proportion of electricity generated by nuclear power (after France with about 78%).
The RMBK-1500 nuclear reactors at Ignalina were water-cooled graphite-moderated reactors of the same type as the reactors in Chernobyl. This is the reason why the European Union insisted on the reactors being switched off, even though the safety of the reactors in Ignalina was considerably upgraded after the Chernobyl disaster and the reactors could probably have operated safely until a new modern nuclear power plant could be built.
The construction of the Ignalina nuclear power station was started in 1978. The first block of 1,500 MW was commissioned at the end of 1983. The second block was due to be commissioned in 1986, but this was postponed to 1987 due to the Chernobyl disaster. Also in 1986 work on the third block was suspended and its construction was completely abandoned in 1989. The first block was switched off in 2004. This year the final powering down of the second block was completed on December 31, 12009. The cost of over 1 billion dollars (Aust) for the decommissioning and compensation is being borne by the European Union.

Further information: 01&04/01/10 31/12/09