Lithuania may outlaw purchasing electricity from Belarus NPP

Gitanas Nauseda, phot. Ints Kalnins/REUTERS/Forum

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda presented to the parliament a number of amendments to the laws on preventing the acquisition of electricity in countries that have hazardous nuclear power plants.

“The import of electricity produced in such way is dangerous for Lithuania’s environment and public health; it is a threat to our national security. In view of this, we need to take additional measures that would limit the possibility of such electricity’s entering the territory of Lithuania,” the presidential press service quotes Nauseda.

The amendments provide for the immediate withdrawal of permissions for the import of electricity from countries where nuclear plants are recognized as potentially hazardous, as well as the refusal to issue new ones.

In addition, the State Service for Energy Regulation may be authorized to contact the National Security Coordination Committee with requests to check the electricity importers. And if any threats to Lithuania’s national security are detected, the service will be able to revoke the permission.

Two years ago, the Lithuanian Seimas declared the Belarusian NPP that is being built in Astravets a threat to national security, environment and public health; the lawmakers limited the imports of energy from Belarus and Russia. Vilnius claims that the construction site is located in a seismic zone.

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The would-be Belarusian NPP with two VVER-1200 reactors with a total capacity of 2,400 MW is being built according to the Russian project near Astravets in Hrodna region. The first power unit was scheduled to be commissioned in 2019, the second one — in 2020. The public keep being concerned over the unavailability of information about everything that happens at and around the site.

It is expected that the NPP will send its used nuclear fuel to Russia, but it will be stored in Belarus for about 10 years before the shipment.

Lithuania has repeatedly criticized the construction of the nuclear power plant and encouraged the rest of the countries of the United Europe to not buy electricity from the NPP. Belarus’ neighbour is not only concerned about the proximity of the station to Vilnius, but also with a number of emergencies during the NPP construction. Among the emergencies are a reactor vessel incident, when it fell during the transportation, the collapse of the concrete structure at the site between the reactors. Our channel was the first to report on the incident. Before the official request of the Lithuanian side, representatives of the Belarusian NPP denied this information.

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In July 2019, during construction work at the Astravets NPP, the 59-year-old and 23-year-old workers fell from a height as a result of a breakdown in the work of the truck tower, sustaining serious injuries.

The recent scandal surrounding the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant was connected with the Russian builders not receiving salaries for their work.

As reported earlier, the department of the Investigation Committee (IC) in Hrodna region is investigating a criminal case launched under Article 252 of the Criminal Code (commercial bribery) against the head of the ventilation and firefighting systems of the Russian company Atomstroyexport, Oleg Zinoviev. The agency notes that his poor quality work has led to the situation where the ventilation equipment, as well as the aggregates and valves to suppress fire at the station, were installed without passing the necessary control checks. According to the IC, violations may lead to ‘whole system failure’ at the Astravets nuclear power plant.

It is planned to launch the first BelNPP reactor in the coming months.