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Lithuania Demands Russia Clarify Safety of Baltic Nuclear Plant

Aug. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Lithuania demanded Russia prove the safety of a nuclear power plant Russian state energy company Rosatom Corp. is building in Kaliningrad a week after urging Belarus to halt work on a similar plant due to safety concerns.

“Lithuania is still waiting for answers to its basic questions regarding the development of the Kaliningrad nuclear power plant project,” the Foreign Ministry in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, said on its website today, urging Russia to comply with international standards for information sharing.

The Baltic nation, which closed its Soviet-built Ignalina nuclear plant as a condition for European Union accession in 2004, is reluctant to see new Russian reactors near its borders with Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave. Russia says its project would benefit Lithuania by reducing electricity prices.

Since 2010, Lithuania has asked Russia “a dozen times” about seismic hazards, emergency preparedness and stress-test plans at the site of the new plant without receiving any answers, the ministry said. Today’s comments are a reaction to criticism by Rosatom that Lithuania is uncooperative, it said.

The Russian company says Lithuania is the only country that’s objecting to the project, while Latvia, Poland, Belarus, Estonia and other countries are satisfied with information that’s been provided, according to a letter from Rosatom that the Lithuanian news portal 15min.lt published yesterday.

Rosatom said in June it suspended some work on construction of the Baltic Nuclear Power Plant in Kaliningrad as it was considering building several smaller reactors in addition to the two initially planned 1,200 megawatt units.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius on Aug. 20 expressed concern that Belarus began groundwork for a nuclear plant that it’s hired Rosatom to build near the town of Ostrovets, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Vilnius. Butkevicius said Belarus must not start construction until it proves compliance with international treaties and safety standards.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryan Bradley in Vilnius at bbradley13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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