Welcome to Visaginas
In its heyday around 5000 shift workers were shuttled between Visaginas and the former plant, about 3km east of the town centre. A Geiger counter recorded the day’s radiation level and Russian was the lingua franca on the streets.
The town’s future remains uncertain, however, after the nuclear plant was shut down at the end of 2009 as part of Lithuania’s agreement to join the European Union. Though there’s talk of building a new plant, that won’t happen until 2018 at the earliest. In the meantime, locals are hoping that increased tourism can bolster the economy.
In mid-August Visaginas bizarrely rocks with a bunch of cowboys – hats, boots and all – who ride into town from across Europe for the two-day international country music festival, Visagino Country (www.visagino country.lt).
From Vilnius to Visaginas you can take trains (€5.40 2¼ hours, six daily) or buses (€8, 2½ hours, 12 daily).