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Published: 5 february 2013 15:13

Lithuanian Prime Minister pledges to turn to prosecutors in case of criminal dealings at Ignalina NPP

Ignalinos atominė elektrinė
Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Ignalinos atominė elektrinė

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius says that the government may ask prosecutors to investigate the activities of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant management if an audit leads to suspicions of criminal activity at the facility which is carrying out multi-billion-litas decommissioning projects.

This would not be the first time that the law enforcement was asked to look into the plant's activities. Three years ago, the then Conservative government handed prosecutors material on allegedly non-transparent public procurement procedures at Ignalina NPP.

"In parallel, we are currently carrying out an audit (of the plant), not only a financial audit, but also a legal one, and someone will have to answer for the mistakes made," Butkevičius told LRT Radio.

"It has turned out that the internal auditors are incapable and that they themselves are scared. Some international company will do (the audit) and give answers to already formulated questions. We will then inform the public in a clear and understandable way about what was being done; and if we see any criminal activity, we will give this to the Prosecutor General's Office," he said.

The Social Democratic leader reiterated his criticism of the former government's handling of the situation at the nuclear power facility.

"We have to admit that it is a shame - first of all, for the management of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, as well as the former energy minister (Arvydas) Sekmokas - that for two years, the plant and the general contractor (Germany's Nukem) had been arguing inside and sorting things out among themselves," he said.

Last December, European donors suspended funding for the plant's spent nuclear fuel storage facility, known as B1, which is Ignalina's biggest decommissioning project, and gave Lithuania until the end of March to reach an agreement with Nukem. If no agreement is reached, EU funding may be completely stopped.

Butkevičius said that the authorities now seek to prepare documents in order for the funding to be resumed in late March.

The head of government said that with the funding being frozen, no work is currently being done at the plant.

Shortly after his appointment as CEO of Ignalina NPP in 2010, Osvaldas Čiukšys handed the Prosecutor General's Office a package of documents on public procurement procedures at the plant amid suspicions that the procedures had been non-transparent and, therefore, caused delays and drove up the costs of the closure projects.

Viktor Shevaldin, the plant's long-time director, lost his job because of this in 2010.

The former Conservative prime minister, Andrius Kubilius, has accused the law-enforcement of turning a blind eye to the decommissioning projects.

Žilvinas Jurkšus, who took over as the plant's CEO from Čiukšys, has been dismissed from office, effective from Tuesday. Jurkšus admitted to BNS last week that he had failed to solve all the problems with Nukem.

A consortium of Nukem Technologies, which is controlled by Russia's energy giant Rosatom, and GNS is implementing multi-billion-litas decommissioning projects at the Ignalina plant, which are running years behind schedule. The companies are building a solid radioactive waste storage facility complex and an interim spent fuel storage facility, initially estimated to cost 123 million euros and 193 million euros, respectively.

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