Milda Aleknonytė| The Lithuania Tribune
Lithuania has to deal with disputes concerning the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) as soon as possible. The deadline, given to reach an understanding with “Nukem Technologies” – the Russian owned German company – is July 17th, next week. This was the main message given by the Delegation from the EP Committee after their visit to Lithuania.
Michael Theurer, head of the delegation, was criticizing the lagging of the project. “Auditors found that the storage installation has been delayed for almost four years. This is a very long time and it is important to remove radioactive material from the reactor. In May, a meeting took place between project managers, partners and the Commission. We, MPs, asked why there is no better project management. All the responsible authorities must improve the management, otherwise the delays will affect the financing.” – Mr. Theurer warned.
The delegation formed an opinion that there are no clear conflict resolution procedures. Mr. Theurer warned, that if the financial disagreements with contractors will not be resolved in July, the Budget Committee may suspend the agreement between Lithuania and the EU. They therefore ask that the current problem with the contractors be resolved.
On the other hand, Mr. Theurers observed that on their trip to the INPP, they came across many qualified, sincerely committed and enthusiastic specialists. The delegation got the impression, that the problems concerning the INPP are of bureaucratic nature, not due to lack of knowledge. For example, some project partners complained that they had to negotiate with ten licensing authorities, while in Bulgaria there is only one authority that deals with licensing.
Compared to Bulgaria and Slovakia, who are also decommissioning their nuclear power plants, Lithuania seems to be having the most problems. Since 1999, 2.85 billion Euros have been spent on decommissioning in these three countries. Half of the sum has gone to Lithuania. Calculations say that another 2,5 billion Euros are needed to complete the decommissioning in these three countries. Although all countries have been criticized of delays, Slovakia has received the best evaluation, as it has already removed the nuclear material from their Bohunice plant.
The EU plans to provide 500 million EUR for the 2014-2020 period for decommissioning of all three countries’ power plants. Yet Lithuania is asking for another 770 million EUR. Lithuania still has many problems to overcome and will have to negotiate with the Committee. As President Dalia Grybauskaitė observed: “No doubt, there are two bad factors influencing the negotiations – firstly, Lithuania has so far could not use 250 million EUR on this financial perspective, yet we are asking for another such amount. It undermines our bargaining position. And disputes with companies, dissatisfaction, project delays will also impact our negotiation position.”
Arvydas Sekmokas, Minister of Energy, is confident Lithuania will overcome all its problems: “There will be funds, and we will carry out decommissioning work as effectively as possible, the goal is to continue this work together with the EU till the very end. I do not doubt that we will reach this goal.”