Lithuania's parliament on Monday called for a non-binding referendum on extending the lifespan of its Soviet-era nuclear power plant despite a previous promise to close it at the end of 2009.
The parliament press service said 88 lawmakers in the 141-seat parliament voted for a referendum to be held on Oct. 12, the same day as scheduled general elections. Five voted against it and 11 abstained.
The plant, Ignalina, shut down its first Soviet era reactor at the end of 2004, and is officially due to close the remaining one at the end of next year as agreed with the European Union during Lithuania's accession negotiations.
Voters will be asked whether they would agree to extend Ignalina's lifespan by "technically safe terms." It didn't elaborate.
Ignalina generates about 70 percent of the Baltic state's electricity needs.
The parliament's law department, however, said a unilateral change in the closure plan would not be lawful as it would breach an EU accession treaty approved in a binding referendum in October 2003.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas has said he would like to extend Ignalina's lifespan at least until 2012, but Brussels, which considers the plant to be unsafe, has repeatedly said this is not an option.
Lithuania has said it wants to build a new plant with 3,200-3,400 megawatts capacity in cooperation with neighbouring Latvia, Estonia and Poland by 2015.
Last Mod: 14 Temmuz 2008, 14:42