EU energy commissioner backs Lithuania's position on Belarus nuclear plant

EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete supports Lithuania’s position that Belarus’ nuclear power plant under construction in Astravets, some 50km from Vilnius, must comply with all Espoo Convention and nuclear safety requirements.

According to Miguel Arias Canete, the Commission will ensure that the assession of the Astravets NPP’s impact on the environmental conditions will be properly made, reports.

The European Commission will also seek conducting conduct stress tests at the Belarusian nuclear power plant.

In 2013, the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention stated that Belarus had violated the Convention by not providing Lithuania with the information necessary to assess the possible environmental impact of the nuclear project. The Committee also declared that the project failed to comply with the Convention’s requirements. In March 2016, the body suggested that an international expert commission should assist in settling the Belarusian-Lithuanian dispute.

But Minsk refused to let the international experts assess the situation and keeps shrugging off Lithuania’s criticism promising that the new NPP will meet the highest possible safety standard.

Read also: Construction supervisors stealing cement, superiors stealing budget money – Astravets NPP builder

The NPP first power-generating unit is scheduled for commissioning in 2018, the second one – in 2020. The construction of two nuclear reactors is provided in the agreement reached by Belarus and Russia, the reactors being supplied by Atomstroyexport, Russia. The project faced opposition at home and abroad on both safety and political grounds.

At the end of 2015, Lithuania’s Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis tried to talk neighboring countries out of purchasing energy from nuclear power stations that are being constructed in the Belarusian town of Astravets and Russia’s Kaliningrad region. “The energy being produced in violation of international regulation of nuclear safety, security and inter-state environmental impact assessment should not be accepted in the European Union, he said.

Read also: Waste from Astravets NPP to be stored in Belarus for 10 years