Lithuania looks set to push for extending the lifespan of its controversial Ignalina nuclear power plant, despite EU calls for it to shut down by 2009. The referendum on the issue, held on Sunday, proved invalid as the turnout fell below the required 50 percent.

However, a huge majority of those that voted opted to keep the Soviet-era plant open. Lithuania agreed under its EU entry treaty to close the Ignalina plant by the end of next year. It houses the same kind of reactors found in Chernobyl in Ukraine, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas said Lithuania may have to disobey the EU if the bloc cannot help it assure energy supplies. However critics have accused the government of doing nothing to find alternative forms of energy for the future.