Lithuania considers suing Belarus over Astravyets nuclear plant

Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis
DELFI / Andrius Ufartas

“Belarus is building (the Astravyets utility) in the cheapest possible way, (Belarusian President Alexander) Lukashenko has said that it would be the world’s cheapest power plant.

“They are not building a sarcophagus, our guess is that it will be equipped with Russian, not Western, security systems to keep the costs low. This means that cutting costs at the expense of security is not fair.

“We will start taking the issue very seriously – I have already asked lawyers to make an assessment whether there are grounds for bringing a lawsuit against Belarus, a purely commercial lawsuit on dumping in connection to unfair and cheap construction of a nuclear utility,” Masiulis told the national radio LRT on Friday.

The minister told BNS that the ministry aimed to establish whether Belarus violated international standards in the construction of the Astravyets utility.

“We want to analyse the legal acts and see whether Belarus is violating legal acts in connection to costs, competition and possibly other elements we do not yet understand. We want to look at the Astravyets construction from a legal perpective, something that has not yet been done,” Masiulis told BNS.

In his words, doubts are raised by repeated declarations in Belarus about the Astravyets nuclear plant being the cheapest nuclear plant worldwide.

“Our attention was drawn by the continued focus on the nuclear plant’s cheapness, we want to see if there are any dumping elements. (…) If Belarus builds its nuclear power plant, they can be engaged in unfair competition with other nuclear utilities,” the energy minister stated.

Under the embargo plan for electricity generated by the Astravyets plant and other third countries endorsed by the Lithuanian government in June, imports of its electricity to Lithuania and other EU countries will be restricted via the Lithuanian bidding zone of the Nord Pool electricity market in 2018, the expected date of launch of Astravyets’ 1st unit.

The Astravyets power plant is being built for a loan received from Russia – in 2011, Russia granted an 8.9 billion euro loan for the construction. The final cost of the power plant has not been officially announced.

Bigger or smaller incidents are reported during the construction of the Astravyets utility. During testing in July, the body of the reactor tumbled in the biggest incident throughout the construction so far.

Lithuania’s government has accused Belarus of falling short of safety standards in the construction of the nuclear plant some 50 km from Vilnius.

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