Lithuania and Belarus should communicate on controversial issues about the nuclear power plant in Astravets, Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy in the U.S. Department of Energy, said on October, 7.
“The United States urges Lithuania and Belarus to continue negotiations and stick with transparency. Such reactors as those being set up at Astravets NPP safely operate in different countries of the world. In the future, U.S. companies could patially provide [the Belarus NPP] with fuel,” Interfax.by quotes Baranwal with reference to news agency BNS.
Moreover, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in Vilnius on Monday that Lithuania should talk to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Belarus about the safety of the Astravets nuclear power plant, delfi.lt reports. According to him, the United States will stay out of talks on this issue.
It is the International Atomic Energy Agency that is supposed to ensure the facilities’ compliance with international standards, he added.
On the same day, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda suggested that the current discussion on the subject should come down from the political to the expert level in the Baltic states. In this case, Lithuania would stand a chance to dissuade the neighbours from buying the electricity from Astravrts NPP, he stressed.
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 would-be 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.
For example, in 2017, while moving the reactor vessel for the first unit of BelNPP, workers let it slip out and touch the ground.
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.