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Flag Lithuania

On this page:
- Country Profile
- Operating Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power Plants
- Nuclear Power Generating Policy and Oversight
- Fuel Supply and Waste Disposal
- Key Nuclear Organizations
(a Central and Eastern European Country)
Additional Lithuania sections
on this website:

- Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant
- Map of Lithuania
- Photos of Lithuania

Country Profile

Size: 25,173 square miles (slightly larger than West Virginia)
Population: 3,617,104 (July 1997 est.)
Gross Domestic Product: $14.1 billion (1996 est.)
Gross Domestic Product per Capita: $3,870 (1996 est.)

Electricity Production: 12.3 billion kWh (1996 est.)
Electricity Consumption per Capita: 3,400 kWh (1996 est.)
Total Installed Generating Capacity (1996): 6,000 MW
   Thermal-Fired Plants: 3,000 MW (50%)
   Nuclear Plants: 3,000 MW (50%)

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Operating Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power Plants

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Lithuania has relied increasingly on nuclear energy for electricity generation. Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power plant has the world's two largest operating nuclear reactors -- RBMK-1500s that together can produce approximately 2,760 MW of electricity. In 1997, the Ignalina plant provided 82 percent of Lithuania's electricity. The plant has the capacity to produce even more power, but safety concerns and public reaction to the Chornobyl accident prompted authorities to limit plant operation to lower power levels.

Although Lithuania's neighbors -- Latvia, Belarus, and the Kaliningrad region of Russia -- have historically relied on the power from the Ignalina plant, their demand for power has diminished since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Belarus now has difficulty paying for power from Ignalina. Moreover, Lithuania must compete for some sectors of its former export market with Russia's Smolensk plant.

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Nuclear Power Generating Policy and Oversight

Lithuania's Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) has three mandates:

  • decide on a set of rules and standards to use for current regulation
  • develop its own rules and standards, based on a survey and analysis of regulations from various countries, which will be codified in national legislation
  • exercise regulatory control over the Ignalina plant's operational safety.
To assist VATESI in these activities, the Lithuanian government has established the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Advisory Committee, which includes advisors and environmental specialists from Britain, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, Russia, and Lithuania. The committee seeks out regulatory information from the European Union countries, draws on Ukraine's experience with Soviet-built reactors, and examines problems from an independent perspective. The committee is working with the Ignalina plant, VATESI, and the Lithuanian government to draw up an integrated approach to safety upgrading and a regulatory infrastructure.

In 1993, the committee recommended price increases for electricity in Lithuania to pay for repairs and upgrade of the Ignalina plant. They also recommended review of several safety- related issues and the appointment of a committee to examine management decisions at Ignalina.

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Fuel Supply and Waste Disposal

The Ignalina plant purchases nuclear fuel from Russia, which has a limited market for RBMK fuel. Although the Russian government has asked for hard currency in exchange for the fuel, it has settled for payment by electricity from Ignalina.

Because reprocessing of RBMK fuel is too costly and storage space is limited, Lithuania has entered new agreements with Sweden and Germany for waste management:

  • A long-term waste management agreement has been signed with the Swedish firm Svensk Karnbranslehantering AB (SKB). The company is assisting with management programs for spent fuel and low- and intermediate-level waste.
  • A contract was signed in 1993 with the German firm Gesellschaft für Nuklear Behalter (GNB) for 60 CASTOR casks to be used for dry storage. After the first delivery of casks in late 1996, GNB expects to deliver four casks per month.

Meanwhile, Lithuania is considering a search for a permanent site for spent fuel disposal.

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Key Nuclear Organizations

  • Lithuanian Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) - Lithuanian nuclear regulatory authority.

  • Ministry of Energy - agency responsible for nuclear power in Lithuania.

  • Lithuania Energy Institute/Ignalina Safety Analysis Group - organization responsible for safety analyses for the Ignalina plant.

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Source: Source Book , 4th ed., Nuclear Energy Institute, 1996; Soviet-Designed Nuclear Power Plant Profiles , U.S. Department of Energy, 1999


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