Remembering Chernobyl: Lithuania maps out what to do in case of Belarus NPP accident

Being apprehensive about the feasibility of a disaster at the nuclear power plant in Astravets, Lithuania’s Ministry of the Interior has developed a special action plan.

Under the most unfavourable circumstances, the country will be ready to evacuate more than 6,000 people within a radius of 30 kilometres.

The evacuation plan will be put into action in case of a major accident and the wind’s blowing from the east. A few weeks ago, the Lithuanian government issued a regulatory ban on the acquisition of electricity from the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The Lithuanians also asked for the United States’ support over the issue of the Belarusian NPP.

“It has not yet been launched, there is still a lot to be done, according to my information, there have been many violations at the construction site. Therefore, it is possible to stop or suspend its construction. All we need is the Belarusian authorities’ political will and talks,” Lithuanian MP Linas Balsys said.

Meanwhile, Belarusian Energy Minister Viktar Karankevich is engaged in negotiations on future energy supply from the nuclear power plant to Ukraine and Poland, although it is still unclear when the station will start operating.

“I consider himself Russia, but I can say that NPPs developed in Russia are far from perfection. That is why one seeks to close Russian-made stations. If, for example, a country joins the European Union, such NPPs are immediately closed,” professor Grigory Lepin said.

On September 22, the head of Belarus claimed that Russia had violated the terms for construction. A day earlier, Alyaksandr Lukashenka asked Vladimir Putin to extend the repayment period of the loan allocated for the construction of the Astravets NPP and lower the interest rate. Lukashenka admitted that he was afraid that Russia would not manage to complete work by the new deadline as well. However, the Russian side promises that the first power unit of the NPP will start operating by the end of 2019.

At first, the NPP first power-generating unit was 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.

Lithuania has repeatedly criticized the construction of the nuclear power plant 50 kilometers from Vilnius 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.