Lithuania asks Belarus to suspend nuclear plant construction until IAEA tests are in

Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant nuotr.

“We asked whether Belarus could provide additional information, as an appendix to the environmental impact assessment documents… We also asked to conduct the IAEA’s site evaluation mission as soon as possible, to carry out stress tests, based on comprehensible methodology, as soon as possible,” said Vitalijus Auglys, director of the Pollution Prevention Department at the Lithuanian Environment Ministry.

“We made those requests for the sake of transparency so as to encourage our Belarusian colleagues to invite Lithuania’s experts to take part in the IAEA’s mission and in stress tests,” he added.

Lithuanian and Belarusian representatives held two-day consultations on Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant this week.

“We haven’t got any serious answer so far. As long as there’s no answer, we proposed to Belarus to suspend construction until stress tests are carried out and IAEA’s studies are concluded… We understand that it’s a difficult question, but we hope that Belarus will listen to our demands,” according to Auglys.

Experts who held consultations on Tuesday and Wednesday only managed to discuss the issues related to the procedures of environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the Astravyets nuclear facility, the selection of alternative sites and access to information, according to Auglys.

Belarus’ representatives provided a considerable amount of information that did not match information received before, since the construction of the nuclear facility had been launched simultaneously with the EIA process and design work, he added.

The meeting was organized in response to a proposal by the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention to report about progress made in coordinating positions relating to the Astravyets nuclear power plant by the end of July.

Vilnius is the most ardent critic of the Astravyets project, saying that Belarus fails to ensure safety at the plant that is being built just 20 kilometres from the border and 50 kilometres from the Lithuanian capital.

Minsk rejects Lithuania’s criticism, saying that it will ensure the highest safety standards at the facility, which is being built by Russia’s nuclear energy corporation Rosatom.

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