TO BE OR NOT TO BE..?
Laura Stankutė ir Eduard Melman Ekonomikos fakultetas
In this report we would like to talk about the pluses and minuses of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) closing. The main reason why we have chosen this theme is that Lithuanian politics often talk about European Union (EU), and the ventilation about Lithuania integration is very ambiguity.
As we know Lithuania wants to become a member of EU as quick as possible. The negotiations, which have been sttarted some years ago, are an extraordinary event in the relation between Lithuania and EU. After the restoration of independence Lithuania started implementing radical economical reforms driven by mass privatization. Since we started to build a free market economy. Lithuania almost achieved this goal; the result is that Lithuania is going to be one of the members of EU in 2004. After a mass privatization reforms in Lithuania there are left some structures, which belong to the government. But all future pllans can be destroyed, because Ignalina plant is not just a structure, but a NUCLEAR power plant. Now these structures are very important for our economy. Privatization of the “Mažeikių nafta” has been a terrible mistake. Lithuania pays to “Williams” 20
The INPP is within the Utena region, situated in Ignalina municipality. Over 95% of INPP’s staff live in Visaginas town and Zarasai. Being a mono-industrial area overwhelmingly dependent upon INPP, non-INPP employment is very limited in these municipalities. About 5,100 full-time workers work at INPP with a further 5,000 employees working in organization serving INPP. The workforce contains a significant share (up to 18%) of highly qualified specialists. The majority of the workforce originates from the former USSR republics, with Russian as the first language.
Redundancies from the INPP had already beegun in a small scale: partly due to improvements to the efficiency of the plant prior to decommissioning, and partly to a declare in electricity production due to reduce export possibilities. Some 1,000 redundancies from INPP might be expected over the next 4 to 5 years. The consensus of the Western European Nuclear Regulator’s Association (WENRA), which was in March 1999, view is that there would not be a tidal wave of unemployment caused by mass redundancies. Rather there would be a progressive and un
We understand that ensuring a high level of nuclear at the INPP in Lithuania is an issue of exclusive importance and attention. Measures for nuclear safety are coordinated with the requirements of the Euroatom Treaty and the Convention on nuclear Safety. But our country is not so wealthy as others, that’s why the sum of the EU subsidies for INPP closing is too small. There are given some recommendations of Positive Measures, but will they be effective? In the Visaginas area, decommissioning will provide long-term employment for many people. Others will need to re-train their professional skills. The Commission will therefore provide financial assistance to social and employment programs to be implemented to those that will be directly affected by the plant closure. Some examples of positive measures raised included:
• Efforts to increase and focus vocational training should be stepped up;
• A research and development center to utilize skills of the qualified redundant should be established;
• Potential for flexible home-based and internet driven pattern of employment and income generation for high and intermediate skill level should be explored;
To do or not to do that is
Of course we understand that INPP must be closed. Due to its design flaws a possible major accident at the RBMK plant would have far more serious consequences than with other types of reactors. And we understand the view of EU, because as politics they have a responsibility towards the citizens of Europe, particularly the citizens of Lithuania and those of other countries that could be affected. As human beings they also have a responsibility for a safer future for the next generations. Giunter Verheugen, a member of the European Committee said: “I oppose any notion that Ignalina should be seen as the main issue of Lithuania’s accession to the Union. It is not. It would be unfair towards Lithuania to make such an assumption. Li
Besides, EU’s politics urge us, that Lithuania will not be letf alone. Is it true? Is it really so? Brussels politics said that if we do not close INPP it will cut off all the ways for Lithuania to enter EU.
According to the Lithuanian’s politics, Lithuania cannot assume the commitment to shut down the reactors of INPP in the absence of a clear financial commitment on behalf of the European Commission and the EU member states.
So as we see the opinions of the Lithuanian’s politics and EU’s politics do not totally differ. The main issue is finance.
Why Lithuania must close the second reactor of INPP until 2009 this question is quite important, but not the key one. The main problem is who will finance it’s closing? Our politics and engineers have accumulated that if INPP will completely shut down until 2014, as EU’s members want, we need about 40 mlrd. Euro. Now the EU’s members give us about 10 mlrd. Euro. What should we do? As we said Lithuania in not wealthy enough and to close INPP without any help is beyond our power. The engineers and experts say that INPP is not so dangerous as other imagine. The Ignalina’s reactor is one of the safest. Together with the international experts, Lithuania has carried out a significant number of safety improvements and has worked together with the international experts to improve the operational safety, and the safety culture. Besides, well-qualified specialist with many years of experience are working in INPP.
Ofcoure the closing of INPP has not got just minuses, it has some benefits too. In my opinion a fairly good solution will be provided on INPP. The rather large problem – which would occure sooner or later – is thereby settled with the assistance of the international community.
The negative impact on national economy will to a certain extent be neutralised by the positive effect of the economic activity generated by new investments and the higher energy efficiency level induced by the investments.
An indirect benefit will be that Lithuania will have shown its ability to make very difficult decision involving compromises at home, which demonstrate its clear commitment to serious international relations and integration with Western Europe.
In exchange the international community has indicated its willingness to provide financial assistance in the form of grants and loans to deal with the costs of closure, provided these are realistically assessed in relation to the alternative costs.
If Lithuania does not make a decision in favour of early closure, it is unlikely that the international community will be so willing to provide assistance. In other words we have to chose the least worse thing. We have already got some subsidies from EU and due to it we cant step back.
SO TO BE OR NOT TO BE???