Belarus Energy Minister’s bid to calm Lithuania: Astravets NPP posing no threat to Neris, Nemunas

The work of the nuclear power station that is being constructed in Astravets will not lead to contamination of the Neris and the Nemunas, Belarusian Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadyuk told the Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas.

“When we were developing the project, at the very initial stage, we made necessary decisions to eliminate the negative impact on the river Viliya [Neris] and the Neman [Nemunas]. There will be a closed-loop cooling system at the nuclear power plant. Water from the Neris will be used to fill cooling systems and re-fill them after evaporation,” he said.

At the same time, he added that the withdrawal of water from the Neris will not affect the level and water balance of the river.

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Any possibility of discharging radioactively polluted water into the river is ruled out, the minister stressed. According to Mikhail Mikhadyuk, statements about a potential trhreat the Belarusian nuclear power plant is posing to Lithuania are unfounded.

The Astravets nuclear power plant is being built 50 kilometers from Vilnius. Lithuania has been criticising Belarus for failing to ensure its safety.

The NPP first power-generating unit is scheduled for commissioning in 2018, 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. The project faced opposition at home and abroad on both safety and political grounds.

At the end of 2015, Lithuania’s Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis tried to talk neighboring countries out of purchasing energy from nuclear power stations that are being constructed in the Belarusian town of Astravets and Russia’s Kaliningrad region. “The energy being produced in violation of international regulation of nuclear safety, security and inter-state environmental impact assessment should not be accepted in the European Union, he said.

Read also: Waste from Astravets NPP to be stored in Belarus for 10 years, паводле БелТА