Viewing cable 05VILNIUS289
Title: AMBASSADOR VISITS LITHUANIA'S REACTOR, DISCUSSES

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05VILNIUS2892005-03-18 14:31:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000289 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, EUR/ERA AND EB/ESC/IEC 
DOE FOR NNSA (MDASH) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ENRG PGOV PREL LH
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR VISITS LITHUANIA'S REACTOR, DISCUSSES 
DECOMMISSIONING 
 
REF: VILNIUS 1505 
 
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SUMMARY 
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¶1.   Ambassador Mull made a day-long tour of northeastern 
Lithuania on March 16.  During his visit, he heard concerns 
from local mayors about the lack of local employment 
opportunities to absorb the large (3,500) Ignalina Nuclear 
Power Plant (INPP) reactor workforce once the only remaining 
functional INPP unit goes offline by 2009.  The INPP Director 
assured the Ambassador decommissioning was on track and all 
nuclear materials were safeguarded, but inquired about the 
possibility of USG assistance to facilitate decommissioning 
efforts.  The Ambassador met with a group of bright students 
at Lithuania's leading business and vocational school who 
impressed him with their fluent English, demonstrating the 
transformation underway in even the most rural reaches of the 
country.  End Summary. 
 
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INPP DECOMMISSIONING ON TRACK 
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¶2.   The latest chapter in the Ambassador's travel program 
took him to the economically depressed northeastern Lithuania 
on March 16.  He got a tour d'horizon of current issues 
facing the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) by INPP 
General Director Victor Shevaldin.  INPP decommissioned its 
first unit in 2004, and is preparing to shut down the second 
one by 2009.  As part of decommissioning, Shevaldin said INPP 
had concluded a contract for the construction of a new spent 
fuel facility.  He anticipated that Unit 1's dismantling 
would begin by 2012 following the transfer of all spent fuel 
to the new facility.  Assuring the Ambassador that INPP 
management would make every effort to ensure that 
decommissioning proceeds without incident, Shevaldin inquired 
whether any USG assistance may be forthcoming to support this 
effort.  (Shevaldin said MOE had written to USDOE 
approximately two weeks ago requesting USG assistance with 
decommissioning.  We understand that USDOE is unlikely to 
support the GOL request). 
 
¶3.  Ambassador Mull complimented Shevaldin on his successful 
management of INPP, observing that it is Lithuania's most 
strategic site, supplying 80 percent of the country's 
electricity needs.  Shevaldin said INPP had not experienced 
any problems with its supply of nuclear fuel from Russia, the 
only country where it is available, noting that the fuel 
arrives by rail in casks sealed with International Atomic 
Energy Agency (IAEA) seals, under the watchful eye of Russian 
and Lithuanian security.  Following their discussions, 
Shevaldin took the Ambassador on a tour of INPP's impressive 
facilities, where he was able to get a first-hand look at the 
fuel assemblies, electricity-generating turbines, and the 
control room outfitted with USDOE-funded computer security 
upgrades. 
 
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ALTERNATIVE WORK NEEDED FOR INPP WORKFORCE 
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¶4.  The Ambassador had productive meetings with the mayors of 
the two cities likely to suffer most from the reactors' 
closure.  Mayor Bronius Rope of Ignalina noted that there is 
a paucity of local investments in his city.  Following INPP 
Unit II's closure, he would like to see alternative 
employment opportunities created for the large 3,500-member 
reactor workforce in alternative industries, such as rural 
tourism and natural resources (wood, sand, clay and rubber). 
He agreed with the Ambassador's observation of the importance 
of reducing the gap between rural and urban Lithuania, noting 
a lack of doctors, teachers and other specialists in rural 
areas.  In Visaginas, where 70 percent of the population 
works at INPP, Mayor Vytautas Rackauskas noted similar 
concerns, sharing with the Ambassador his vision of opening 
an information technology-based industrial park in his city. 
He informed the Ambassador that Visaginas draws strength from 
its 46 nationalities, and he accepted the Ambassador's offer 
to consider local officials for future USG-sponsored exchange 
programs. 
 
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BRIGHT STUDENTS EMBODY LITHUANIA'S TRANSFORMATION 
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¶5.  Ambassador Mull fielded a wide range of questions from 
students at the Visaginas Business and Technology Education 
and Training Center, Lithuania's leading vocational training 
school, that has used EU funding to build a strong base in 
distance learning and technology-based education.  In fluent 
English, the students asked him about travel to the United 
States, U.S.-Lithuanian exchange programs, potential 
partnerships for their Center with U.S. institutions, foreign 
investment, INPP decommissioning, and future U.S.-Lithuanian 
cooperation.  The Ambassador said he sets the highest 
priority on attracting more U.S. investment to Lithuania, and 
told the students he would try and help their Center find an 
American partner.  This forward-looking school is a bright 
spot in an otherwise dreary rural landscape, and serves as an 
example of how the country is transforming itself, even in 
rural areas. 
 
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COMMENT 
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¶6.  Ambassador Mull's visit to northeastern Lithuania is part 
of a Mission effort to get out of Vilnius and reach out to 
citizens in different parts of this diverse land, learn more 
about their concerns, and show them that America cares about 
them, too.  This trip offered valuable insights into the 
needs of two cities struggling to cope with the impending 
closure of their largest employer.  It also confirmed that 
decommissioning at the Ignalina nuclear plant is proceeding 
in an orderly manner. 
Mull