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European Union is deeply concerned about the safety issues of Ostrovets nuclear power plant in Belarus

The industrial launch of the first Belarus nuclear power plant has become even more disputable after the recent statement of Lithuanian government, which let the world community know about essential risks of Ostrovets nuclear power plant in Belarus. It becomes even more significant, taking into account that the construction of Belarus nuclear power plant was accompanied by numerous accidents, international experts were denied to provide full check of security issues and even Lithuanian government failed to obtain any solid information about security of Ostrovets though it is situated right near the Lithuanian border.

For example, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania is situated just 50 km from the mentioned nuclear power plant.

Top Lithuanian officials, including president Gitanas Nausėda, are harshly critical of the facility and its proximity to their country’s capital, and successive governments in Vilnius have lobbied their neighbors – and the European Union as a whole – to join them in opposition to Ostrovets. “I hope that the joint forces of representatives of different political forces, experts and civil society activists will significantly contribute to ensuring Lithuania’s national security,” Nauseda said as he congratulated the Movement Against the Ostrovets Nuclear Power Plant on its first anniversary.

The president noted that the Ostrovets safety has already become an EU agenda issue regularly discussed at the European Council and that the European Parliament, through Lithuanian representatives’ efforts, has also got involved in addressing the nuclear plant’s safety issues, passing a resolution on the matter on February 11, according to the press release.

Lithuania also made some essential efforts to reveal security and environmental issues of Belarus nuclear project to the European institutions.

On February 3, 2021 Cristian-Silviu Buşoi, representative of Committee on Industry, Research and Energy of the European Parliament made a statement at plenary hearings, pointing out that “the plant is being implemented as a geopolitical project of Belarus and Russia and that its construction and future operation is a source of possible threat to the European Union and its Member States with regard to safety, health and the protection of the environment”. According to Mr. Buşoi, the quantity and frequency of safety incidents raise major concerns regarding the poor quality assurance and control in the plant’s design, manufacturing and assembling phases and its low operational safety.

“The nuclear power plant of Ostrovets should not start its operation until it has been demonstrated that it fully complies with the highest international environmental and nuclear safety standards,” he said before the EP vote. It was directly stated that the current regulatory authority in Belarus (Gosatomnadzor – Department of Nuclear and Radiation Safety of the Ministry for Emergency Situations) is under constant political pressure and lacks sufficient independence both in form and in substance.

As the European Parliament is set on Thursday to vote on a resolution calling for the suspension of the Ostrovets nuclear power plant in Belarus, the European Commission vows to closely monitor the project’s implementation. That is why the forthcoming careful and complex observation of all components, units and technological cycle of Ostrovets nuclear power plant is a priority for the European Union.

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson says that experts from the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) have carried out the first phase of the current EU peer review on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A preliminary report will be prepared and presented to the ENSREG plenary sitting in early March.

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