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Estonia, Lithuania deny nuclear waste storage rumors

TALLINN, March 20 (RIA Novosti, Nikolai Adashkevich) - A Lithuanian official and an Estonian energy company Monday dismissed media reports that the Baltic states would build a joint storage facility for nuclear waste in Estonia.

"I have no idea who could come up with this idea," said Donaldas Jasultaitis, head of the Lithuanin economics ministry's nuclear energy department. "It contradicts global practice. The producer buys the waste and handles it. Nobody else can do it."

Local media cited Estonian MEP Andres Tarand as saying that his Lithuanian counterparts had repeatedly suggested that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania would share responsibility for storing nuclear waste. The three Baltic states agreed February 27 to build a nuclear power plant in Lithuania by 2015.

The countries' prime ministers concluded that construction of an NPP would be the easiest way to resolve an energy crisis expected in 2009, when Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power plant will be shut down in line with European Union nuclear safety requirements. The Ignalina plant uses RBMK-1000 reactors, which were also used at the ill-fated Chernobyl plant.

Three energy companies - Latvenergo, Eesti Energa and Lietuvos energia AB - will work on the project, which will cost an estimated $3-4 billion.

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