Astravets NPP problems discussed at the meeting of the Minister of Energy and the new chief of the IAEA

Date

2019 12 20

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The Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas met the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi. The main purpose of the meeting was to introduce the position of Lithuania regarding the threats caused by Astravyets nuclear power plant (Astravyets NPP) to the national security of Lithuania.

'We cannot live in the world of illusions created by Belarus and Rosatom around the security of Astravyets NPP constructed in the centre of Europe. Nuclear security is the universal responsibility because as the lessons in the past show nuclear accidents turn into universal disaster. The reputation of atomic energy is in the hands of the IAEA, therefore assurance of nuclear safety and security in Belarus must be the priority objective of the IAEA', said Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas.

At the today's bilateral meeting with newly-appointed Director General Mr. Grossi, the Minister noted the reluctance of Belarus to implement the recommendations given by the international experts during the EU stress tests regarding improvement of nuclear safety of Astravyets NPP project.  It was noted that the violations of the international conventions (Espoo, Aarhus) are still present in Astravyets NPP, the IAEA safety recommendations have not been implemented fully.

The Minister highlighted that Belarus participation in the stress tests (testing under most unfavourable conditions) and preparation of recommendations do not improve nuclear safety, unless the recommendations are implemented. Serious doubts arise in case of Belarus if specific measures will be taken to eliminate nuclear security defects before putting the first reactor of Astravyets NPP into operation. IAEA missions are in analogous situation – despite six missions completed by the IAEA in Belarus, the recommendations of none of them have been implemented fully and timely by now.

Mr. Vaičiūnas emphasised the importance of the IAEA missions and encourage improvement of their implementation mechanism to ensure completion of full scope IAEA missions by the states developing nuclear energy and implementation of their recommendations fully and timely.

The Director General of IAEA understanding the importance of nuclear security promised his involvement in implementation of IAEA missions in Belarus and overseeing implementation of the recommendations.  

Cooperation between Lithuanian and IAEA on decommissioning of Ignalina NPP and management of used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste was also discussed at the meeting. The Minister informed that Lithuanian invited IAEA experts to carry out the IRRS ( Integrated Regulatory Review Service) mission in 2020 and ARTEMIS (Integrated Regulatory Review Service) mission in 2021.

The Minister of Energy thanked Mr. Grossi for the expert support provided by the IAEA to Lithuania in Ignalina NPP decommissioning process.

Lithuania joined the IAEA in 1993. The main task of the agency founded by the United Nations Organisation is to promote safe use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

During the visit to Vienna, the Minister also met US Ambassador Jackie Wolcott to discuss the threats of Astravyets NPP to Lithuania.