The nuclear power plant in Astravyets poses a threat for Lithuania's national security

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2017 06 09

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The Government of Lithuania has endorsed the conclusions of the assessment of the nuclear power plant (NPP) being built in Astravyets District, Belarus. This leads to recommendation for the Parliament to declare the Atravyets NPP unsafe due to its geographic location, which threatens Lithuania's national security, environment and public health.

„National security and people's interests are the top priority. Lithuania's position with regard to Astravyets nuclear power plant is clear and resolute – the construction of Astravyets NPP cannot be continued. Since the very beginning the construction has been accompanied by serious violations and incidents, there has been no adherence to nuclear safety and international environmental regulations“, claimed Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

The assessment of Astravyets NPP was performed by the Government as part of the implementation of the Law on Necessary Measures against the Threats Posed by Unsafe Nuclear Power Plants in Third Countries adopted by the Parliament.

It was found that Astravyets NPP violates the national and security interests in all of the criteria set out in the law (geographical location and choice of the site, technological characteristics, nuclear safety assurance, adherence to international security and environmental safety regulations, cross-border cooperation, etc.).

The assessment concludes that Belarus has failed to provide any evidence that the location chosen for the NPP, which is located only 40 kilometres away from Vilnius, has properly assessed Lithuanian population size, its distribution and other factors that are relevant in the case of a nuclear or radiological accident at Astravyets NPP.

Lithuania has received no information on the radiological impact during the normal operation of the NPP, as well as in case of accident. A serious nuclear or radiological accident at Astravyets NPP could result in up to a third of Lithuanian population experiencing harmful effects of radiation. The situation would be further complicated by the fact that the danger zone would include the capital Vilnius, which is where most key state institutions are located.

The potential seismic and other natural dangers were not considered when the location for the nuclear power plant was chosen. There has also been no evidence, that the siting was done in accordance with the Safety Requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Belarus has not performed stress tests.

The assessment conclusions state, that the construction of Astravyets NPP has not conformed to the international environmental, nuclear safety and radiation protection regulations and has violated international Nuclear Safety Convention, Espoo Convention and Aarhus Convention.

Finally, despite Lithuania's active efforts and the urging of international organisations to comply with transparency and openness principles, Belarus has failed to ensure, that all information on the construction process of Astravyets NPP is provided in a quick and transparent manner.

The assessment has been prepared by the Ministry of Energy based on the conclusions provided by the State Security Department, State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate, Radiation Protection Centre, Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, Fire and Rescue Department, Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service and Lithuanian Geological Survey.