The Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant is a Chernobyl-style electricity generating plant. Not surprisingly, one of the conditions of Lithuania’s accession to the European Union was closing the power plant. It was officially shut down on December 31, 2009; however, the spent fuel and other aspects of the plant are still being decommissioned. The plant underwent extensive safety renovations in the 1990s and it’s closure was very controversial in Lithuania. Lithuania already has high electricity costs and is fairly dependent on Russia fuel oil. There was a great deal of concern that shutting down Ignalina would increase both electricity prices and dependence on Russian oil. I can’t speak to the economic situation after the plants closure, although I understand that a new power plant is being built in the same area.
In the center of Visaginis, there is a large reader sign that gives the time and current temperature. It also gives the current radiation level — which was 8 on the weekend I was there. It was a bit unsettling to feel like I had to keep checking the radiation level each time we passed the sign.