Lithuanian premier suspicious of Russia and Belarus nuclear plans

Vilnius - Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius expressed concern Tuesday over plans by Russia and Belarus to build nuclear power plants close to his country's borders, while insisting that Lithuania's own plans for a nuclear facility will go ahead.

"We are quite concerned about the plans in Russia and Belarus," Kubilius said while speaking on Lithuanian national radio. "If they were to be constructed, we would face considerable environmental challenges."

Russia has plans to build two nuclear reactors in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad between Lithuania and Poland, while authorities in Belarus have been surveying locations around Michaliskes, 20 kilometres from the Lithuanian border, with a view to constructing their own nuclear plant.

Kubilius' comments came one day after green activists in Lithuania protested on the 24th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster against the planned construction of a new nuclear power plant near the town of Visaginas in the north of the country.

However, Kubilius suggested the protests had an ulterior motive.

"When I see that rallies are held not to show concern for the plants in Belarus and Russia, but for the one to be built in Visaginas, I'm left thinking that this was the intention behind announcing projects in Russia and Belarus," he said.

The new Lithuanian facility, which comes with an estimated cost of around 4 billion dollars and an anticipated completion date of 2018, will replace the Ignalina nuclear power plant, which was shut down on December 31, 2009.

Closing Ignalina's Chernobyl-type reactors was one of the conditions under which Lithuania joined the European Union in 2004. Work is continuing on dismantling the Soviet-era plant and disposing of its waste - a process expected to take 30 years.

If all three countries' projects were to be constructed, they would be within 200 kilometres of each other and could produce far more energy than the region would realistically need, experts say.


Partners: Social Network