‘Minsk shouldn’t cherish hope for cooperation’. Lithuania wary of Belarus NPP safety

Minsk should not deceive itself with hopes for joint operation the would-be Belarusian nuclear power plant in Astravets, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on Friday.

“Minsk should not have hope that they will be able to sell electrical energy produced at the dangerous nuclear power plant,” Delfi quotes the minister referring to Baltic News Service agency.

According to him, the Belarusian authorities could deserve confidence if the facility were monitored by independent experts.

Discussions about the safety of the Belarusian NPP were resumed after the recent incident at the construction site.

Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said Thursday that Lithuania should think of helping his country run the nuclear power plant instead of criticizing it. He also promised that Belarus would get rid of the reactor vessel that had been lately dropped if it suffered even the slightest bit of damage. 

According to Lithuanian Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis, such step would be appropriate because the further usage of the dropped reactor vessel ‘is posing a threat’.

As reported earlier, during installation the enclosure of the future reactor fell from the height of 2 – 4 meters at the construction site of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Astravets (Hrodna region).

At first, the Belarusian Energy Ministry declined any comment on the situation. The press office group of the company Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of the Russian state corporation Rosatom and the general contractor at the Belarusian NPP construction, said the information about the reactor’s fall was untrue.

Later, however, the Belarusian side confirmed that the ‘emergency situation had occurred in the storage area of the reactor body during its movement in the horizontal plane’ but failed to go into specifics.

Lithuania’s government handed a note to the Belarusian Embassy over the incident. Vilnius also asked Brussels for involvement of the European Union in the matter. Lithuania is the main critic of the idea of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, which is only 20 km from the border and 50 km from Vilnius. Minsk rejects Lithuania’s claims, arguing that nuclear power plants will have high safety standards.

The first power unit of the Belarusian NPP is planned to be commissioned in 2018, the second one – in 2020.