Lithuanian minister dismisses ‘childish’ explanations about incident at Astravyets plant

Kęstutis Trečiokas
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

The Belarusian media reported last month that during installation works, a reactor body fell from the height of several metres.

Alexander Lokshin, first deputy CEO of the Russian nuclear energy corporation, stated in an interview on Rosatom website that the incident at the Astravyets plant cannot be referred to as a fall of the reactor body, since “the velocity of movement of the body did not exceed the velocity of a pedestrian”.

Lithuania’s Environment Minister Kęstutis Trečiokas has reacted by saying it was typical strategy to conceal information or, if that fails, to downplay problems and brush them under the carpet.

“These are childish explanations – even if an object of 330 tons falls 10 centimetres to the ground, it is a serious incident,” Trečiokas told BNS on Monday.

According to the Rosatom statement, the incident was filmed on tape, but Trečiokas claims the Lithuanian Environment Ministry has not received any materials from Belarus or Rosatom.

“This is the usual way of communication – denial. When this is no longer possible, describing a major (incident) as a minor one, and describing a minor (incident) as nothing,” the Lithuanian minister said.

Last Thursday, the Lithuanian government handed a note to a Belarusian diplomat over the incident at the construction site of the Astravyets nuclear utility. Lithuania’s foreign, energy and environment ministers also sent a letter to the European Commission’s Vice-President Maros Sovic and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, notifying them of the incident and asking for the EU’s active involvement in the settlement of the nuclear safety matter.

The incident is the latest in a series of reported problems at the facility which is being constructed 50 kilometres from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. Lithuania has been criticizing Belarus for falling short of safety standards in the construction process. Minsk has dismissed the criticism as ungrounded.

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