Why Astravets NPP so close to Vilnius? Belarus violated Espoo Convention – parties

Nuclear power plant in Astravets, phot. Vasil Malchanau / Belsat

On February 7, the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention in Geneva decided that Belarus had violated the Espoo Convention in choosing a construction site for its nuclear power plant.

According to them, Belarus failed to provide the Committee with the information regarding the justification of the selection of the Astravets site over the alternative sites.

The decision was welcomed by Lithuania, as the would-be Belarusian NPP is only 50 kilometres from Vilnius.

“A joint and long-term effort provided by the Lithuanian institutions, international cooperation, and active diplomatic work have helped to achieve the EU’s united position on the Astrovets NPP and to defend the values set out in the Espoo Convention. The choice of the construction site for the Astravets NPP is without justification. Today, the international community has reaffirmed it,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius.

According to the top official, it is regrettable that Belarus ignores the international experts’ findings in order to follow the construction plan. The complaint that the Convention was violated in carrying out the environmental impact assessment of the Astravets NPP was lodged by Lithuania in 2011. 30 of 36 participants backed Lithuania’s stance at Thursday’s session.

In turn, Minsk expressed its disappointment at the ‘anri-Belarusian’ decision made by the Geneva meeting in quite a harsh way, criticisimg the European Union for ‘pleasing Lithuania’.

“On the contrary, opposition to the Belarusian nuclear power plant project has become an obsession in the Lithuanian political environment. After destroying its own nuclear energy industry and turning down Belarusian proposals to build a nuclear power plant together, Lithuanian politicians seem to have no other choice but to shift their responsibility to voters to a blameless party,” the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed.

The 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 is scheduled to be commissioned in 2019, 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.

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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. Our 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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