Belarus Plans New Nuclear Plant; May Sell Power To Lithuania

DRUSKININKAI, Lithuania (AFP)--Belarus plans to build a new nuclear power plant by 2015 that could possibly export energy to neighbor Lithuanuia, Belarus Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky said Tuesday in Lithuania.

"We are going to build the first block by 2015. We spoke with Lithuanian energy specialists about the possibility of supplying part of the electricity produced in this power plant to Lithuania," said Sidorsky after talks with Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas in Lithuania's resort town of Druskininkai, near the Belarus border.

According to Sidorsky, the new plant will have two blocks with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each. He declined to reveal the planned location.

Kirkilas called Belarus' nuclear power plans "a step in the right direction."

Lithuania agreed to close its Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear power plant by 2009 as part of its 2004 E.U. accession agreement.

Along with Baltic neighbours Estonia, Latvia and Poland, it is in negotiations to build a new facility within a decade but fears suffering energy shortfalls in the interim.

Vilnius is therefore lobbying the E.U. to extend the life of the current Ignalina plant.

Built in 1983, it is the same kind of nuclear plant as Chernobyl, which caused the world's worst nuclear accident when it exploded in 1986, contaminating parts of Ukraine where it was located, as well as Belarus and Russia - then all part of the former Soviet Union - along with western Europe.

The new reactor at Ignalina is meant to come on stream by 2015, although some experts have suggested that 2017-2020 is a more realistic target.



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