Study on environmental impact of new Lithuanian plant

05 February 2008

Lithuania's national energy company, Lietuvos Energija, has awarded a contract to an international consortium to evaluate the environmental impact assessment for a new nuclear power plant in the country.


The contract, worth some €1.3 million ($2 million), was awarded to Finland's Poyry Energy Oy and the Lithuanian Energy Institute following an international tender. The two companies will cooperate with five Lithuanian and international subcontractors: the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Environmental Impact Assessment centre of Finland, RAIT UAB, the Lithuanian Metalecological Society and the National Public Health Investigation Centre.


Under the contract, the consortium will study and report on an environment impact assessment (EIA) conducted by Lietuvos Energija. The company started planning the assessment in May 2007 and presented the EIA program at the end of July 2007. The program established the aspects of a potential environmental impact, which have to be addressed in the EIA study and included in the report. The procedure of the EIA is to be finalized by February 2009.


Tadas Matulionis, head of the nuclear energy department, strategic planning of Lietuvos Energija, said: "In August 2008 we are to present the EIA report and we expect active participation of the public in open debates to make comments and proposals." He said that a final decision on admissibility of the construction of the new nuclear power plant will be made after having considered the conclusions of the responsible institutions, public opinion, and the results of international consultations with Latvia, Belarus and other countries that could be affected by the operation of the proposed plant.


International maneuvers


Economic ministers from the three Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) and Poland yesterday pledged their commitment to offset the region's energy dependence on Russia. The Baltic States hope to link up their electricity grids with those of Poland and Sweden, in addition to constructing a new nuclear power plant at Ignalina, Lithuania.


Lithuania's economy minister, Vytas Navickas, told the Baltic News Service (BNS) that Poland no longer raised any demands concerning a specific share of output from the new nuclear plant. However, Poland's economy minister, Waldemar Pawlak, said: "We have expressed positive intentions on the construction of a nuclear power plant and stressed that we expect satisfactory participation in the project and assignation of capacity." He added, "We will hold additional consultations on the method, how we will participate. Decisions will take place in the future, we should take a very flexible approach to that issue."


Navickas also announced that he had been invited to Warsaw on 12 February when it was planned that documents would be signed on the construction of an 'energy bridge' between Lithuania and Poland. The connection of the two countries' electricity grids, which would connect Lithuania to the power systems of western Europe, is planned to be in place by 2010. Lithuania, like Latvia and Estonia, is still tied to the Russian power grid.


On 1 February, Lithuania's parliament approved the creation of a state-controlled company to lead the new nuclear power plant project. The new company - to be called Lithuanian Electricity Organization AB - would be 61.7% government-owned with the remainder held privately. The company would be authorized to negotiate with governments and private companies in Poland, Latvia and Estonia on the proposed joint nuclear power plant project. The bill still requires the approval of Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus.


The existing Ignalina nuclear power plant consists of two RBMK reactors, originally 1500 MWe units, but later de-rated to 1360 MWe. Construction stared in 1978 and the units came on line in 1983 and 1987, respectively. The plant currently provides some 80% of Lithuania's electricity as well as providing electricity for export, particularly to Latvia and Belarus. Under Lithuania's EU accession agreement, unit 1 was closed in December 2004 and unit 2 is to be closed by the end of 2009. In anticipation of the closure of unit 2, Lithuania is planning to add new nuclear capacity.


In February 2007 Lativa, Lithuania and Estonia joined with Poland to agree to build a new nuclear reactor at Ignalina, initially with 3200 MWe capacity (two 1600 MWe units). As host, Lithuania would have 34% of the project and Poland, Latvia and Estonia would have 22% each. At least one unit of the project is expected to be operating by 2015.