Environmental OK for Visaginas nuclear plant

01 May 2009

Plans to build a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania have received approval from the country's Ministry of Environment.


The decision covers a potential new nuclear plant with a capacity of up to 3400 MWe - enough for three reactors, or two of the very largest.


It comes after government analysis of an environmental impact assessment which covered the potential impacts of such a plant on public health, socio-economic conditions, biological diversity, surface water, climate and air quality, the sub-soil and landscape as well as cultural heritage.


Visaginas would be a new nuclear site alongside the existing Ignalina nuclear power plant, which hosts two large Russian RBMK reactors. One of the units is shut down, while the other is set for closure at the end of this year under an agreement with the EU. The new plant would replace the lost domestic generation capacity and power exports which Lithuania has enjoyed since the break-up of the Soviet Union.


The project is being undertaken by the Visaginas Nuclear Plant project company, which is 100% held by Lithuanian Electricity Organization (LEO LT), itself held by Lietuvos Energija, RST and the privately-owned NDX Energija, owner of grid company VST AB.


At some point in the future, LEO LT will offer partners from Latvia and Estonia the opportunity to take stakes in the Visaginas company, although LEO LT will retain 51%.


International operation

The program of the assessment was approved in November 2007 and some 11 state and municipal authorities then took part in coordinating the report, led by Finnish consultants Poyry Energy Oy and the Lithuanian Energy Institute. Around 80 experts were involved on individual part of the report.


The finished document was presented to seven other countries, while special consultation took place with neighbouring Belarus, Latvia and Poland as well as Austria, some 750 km away.