The Astravets NPP problem – at the Energy Council in Brussels

Date

2019 12 05

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On 3-4 December, Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas was in Brussels, where, during a meeting with the new Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, and a meeting of the Energy Council, he set out Lithuania’s requirements concerning implementation of the recommendations made during the Astravets NPP stress tests and European process oversight.

During yesterday’s bilateral meeting with Ms Simson, Mr Vaičiūnas discussed the problems of the Astravets NPP in detail. At the request of Lithuania, the Energy Council’s agenda was supplemented by the question of the Astravets NPP and the implementation of safety recommendations made during stress tests. Minister Vaičiūnas called for the Commissioner for Energy and the new leadership of the European Commission (EC), which officially assumed office on 1 December, to address Belarus as soon as possible.

On behalf of Lithuania, a document was distributed to all EU countries about the intolerable situation in Belarus regarding the lack of implementation of stress test recommendations. The minister reminded his EU counterparts and the European Commission that Belarus is working hard to speed up the construction of the Astravets NPP while also dragging out the stress test process, and is still not committed to implementing the recommendations made by the EU expert group in 2018.

Mr Vaičiūnas called on the EC to focus on the Astravets NPP issue and to address Belarus as soon as possible, urging them to submit a national action plan for review by international experts and to implement the recommendations before the reactor is launched. According to Lithuania, the EC should closely and continuously monitor the implementation of the revised plan and inform EU Member States periodically.

“We expect proactive EC action and political leadership in ensuring that the highest international nuclear safety standards are met in the construction of nuclear power plants in the vicinity of the EU. EU stress tests are a good and useful tool as long as all of the independent expert recommendations are implemented before the nuclear reactors become operational. However, in the case of Belarus, we can clearly see that there is a real threat and efforts on the part of Belarus to launch the Astravets NPP without the implementation of even essential nuclear safety requirements. In that case, the EU and its initiatives to strengthen nuclear safety will be fruitless. It is still not too late to change the situation,” said the Minister of Energy.