Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Premature Closing Of Ignalina

The Ignalina reactor in Lithuania is now being closed. As it was built during the era of Soviet occupation, safety there is not as good as in modern Western nuclear reactors, so it is in a way understandable that the EU has insisted on its closure. Nevertheless, the risk of a meltdown is still minutiae, and right now is really the worst possible timing for such a closure.

Ignalina provides some 70% of Lithuania's electricity and its closure will therefore provide a further harsh blow to the Lithuanian economy, which has suffered from an economic depression. It would therefore have been a good idea to postpone the closure until the Lithuanian economy gained more strength and alternative energy production in Lithuania was developed.

As it is, Lithuanians will now see energy prices jump significantly, while many more Lithuanians become unemployed and Lithuania becomes dependent on the import of natural gas from Russia. The cost of extra measures to guarantee safety there would have been neglible compared to the cost of premature closure.