‘Google-translated’ environmental impact report has Lithuania doubting Belarus serious on nuclear safety

Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant
Reuters / Scanpix

Lithuanian officials received an environmental impact report from Belarus in 2010.

Energy expert Romas Švedas, former deputy minister of energy, says that the report reads like it has been produced using Google Translate.

“People did what they could. On the other hand, it shows an attitude towards a nuclear object that is impertinent,” Švedas comments on the document, adding that when it comes to nuclear safety, everything must be clinically clear.

The document in Lithuanian, which was shared with the media recently, is written in incomprehensible syntax and contains inaccuracies that could only be explained by automated translation.

“Plant” in “nuclear plant” is rendered in Lithuanian with the word that describes biological plants. Structural make-up turned into cosmetics.

Lithuania’s Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis says that such “misunderstandings” should not be happening.

“I would like to believe that such Belarusian actions, when environmental impact assessment documents are translated with Google Translate, are a misunderstanding. This should not be happening, when it comes to nuclear safety,” Masiulis said.

Švedas says that Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant is a show-off project for the Belarusian government, which can compromise its safety.

President Alexander Lukashenko has set the deadlines, that are being observed to the detriment of safety, Švedas believes. He also quotes Lukashenko’s statements that it will be the cheapest power plant ever built. “But at what cost?” Švedas says.

Another problem is that Belarus has no experience in nuclear energy and nuclear safety and there is no independent agency to oversee security.

“For example, Lithuania has the State Nuclear Energy Security Inspectorate, which has been working for decades and has amassed much experience,” he says. “In Belarus, the regulator is directly subordinate to one of the ministries. And all ministries take command from Lukashenko.”

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