VILNIUS, March 13 (Itar-Tass) —— The parliament of Lithuania (Seimas) has started collecting signatures in support of an advisory referendum on the construction of the Visaginas nuclear power plant in the republic.
Leader of the Christian Party faction Vidmantas Ziemelis plans to get the holding of the referendum.
“The implementation of the NPP project will be followed by huge long-term financial liabilities for the country and will affect the life in Lithuania,” he said.
“Under the Constitution, such strategically important issues should be submitted to the nationwide discussions,” Ziemelis reaffirmed, offering to hold it simultaneously with the parliamentary elections in October.
The idea of the referendum needs approval of the parliament. Thirty-five deputies (or a quarter of the parliament members) need to support the proposal by their signatures. Experts are confident that it is rather realistic, however the parliament will hardly vote even for an advisory referendum.
According to the initial plans, the Visaginas nuclear power plant was planned be built by Lithuania jointly with Latvia, Estonia and Poland. The NPP will be constructed instead of the Ignalina NPP.
While joining the European Union, Lithuania promised to shut down the Ignalina NPP, which the European Union considers unsafe (because it is equipped with the Chernobyl-type RBMK reactors) and which was stopped at Brussels’ demand on December 31, 2009. The Ignalina nuclear power plant was the only NPP in the Baltic republics.
The start of the new NPP construction is slated for 2014. It is expected to be commissioned in 2020. Initially, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland planned to build jointly a new nuclear power plant by 2015. However, a new nuclear power plant may be launched not earlier than in 2020. Construction of a news nuclear power plant will cost five billion euros. This project is estimated at the republic’s most promising over the years of independence.
However, at the beginning of December 2011, Poland informed the Lithuanian government on the suspension of its participation in the project for the construction of Lithuania’s NPP in Visaginas. At the same time, the Vilnius officials said that Poland’s refusal to take part in the construction of the Visaginas NPP in Lithuania would not change the plans for the construction of the facility.