Lithuania to Shut Down Nuclear Plant Thursday as Country Looks to Join European Union

VIAGINAS, Lithuania, Dec. 31 (UPI) — Lithuania’s nuclear power plant will cease operations Thursday, moving the Baltic country a step closer to membership in the European Union, officials said.

Observers said the shutdown of the Soviet-era plant, scheduled for an hour before midnight, will mean higher energy prices and greater reliance on Russia for energy supplies, the BBC reported.

The facility in Viaginas, which opened 26 years ago when the country was part of the former Soviet Union, supplies about 80 percent of Lithuania’s power.

The European Union required the plant be shut down as a condition for Lithuania’s membership and allocated about $1.2 billion to cover a part of the plant’s decommissioning costs, the BBC said.

Critics of the shutdown said the facility could operate safely for another 10 to 15 years.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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