Warsaw, Poland (AFP)
May 15, 2006
By Staff Writer

Poland could join its three northern Baltic neighbours to build a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania, the head of Poland’s Atomic Energy Agency said in an interview published Thursday. “It would be ideal if Poland’s first nuclear power plant were built in Ignalina in Lithuania,” Jerzy Niewodniczanski told the Zycie Warszawy newspaper.

“The Lithuanians, together with Latvia and Estonia, want to develop the existing site (of a nuclear power plant), and they have thought about us” as a potential partner in the project, Niewodniczanski said. “Being a co-owner of the site would not only give us access to electricity but also to the ideal place for gaining experience and training personnel for a future site in Poland,” he said. The Polish government adopted a strategic energy policy paper in January last year, in which it called for a nuclear power station to be built in Poland after 2020. The prime ministers of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia in February endorsed a project to build a new nuclear power plant for the Baltics. This week, energy companies from the three Baltic states chose London-based investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein to coordinate the feasibility study into the construction of the power plant, which will replace an ageing nuclear power station at Ignalina. The Ignalina nuclear station has two RBMK reactors, the type that exploded at Chernobyl in the then-Soviet Union in 1986, provoking the world’s worst nuclear disaster. One of the reactors at the Ignalina plant was halted on December 31, 2004 in line with commitments made by Lithuania to the European Union ahead of accession. Lithuania pledged to shut down the other reactor by 2009. The three Baltic states and Poland joined the EU in May 2004. The feasibility study will be completed by November 1 and will look into the technology available for the power plant, environmental problems, equipment suppliers, construction deadlines and fuel supply options. It will also evaluate a possible site for the construction of the power plant, assess financing options and the possibilities of using EU funds for further research.