Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Experts Slam Nuclear Plant Project as Unacceptable

The Belarusian government's plans to build a nuclear power plant in the Hrodna region are unacceptable, said an independent commission of 15 environmental experts representing Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

While talking to reporters in Minsk on Monday, Ivan Nikitchanka, a member of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences who heads the commission, said that the experts had examined the project in detail.

The commission slammed the Belarusian government's report assessing the environmental impact of the future plant as "a de facto non-critical reproduction of the Russian atomic energy industry's advertising materials."

The experts said that the report provided "conflicting, incomplete and sometimes false" information about the project's details, including fuel and waste projections.

In particular, they accused the authorities of providing misleading information about spent fuel handling and ignoring health dangers associated with exposure to low-level radiation.

The government's report does not account for management techniques for radioactive waste and the impact of possible accidents at the plant and waste storage facilities on the environment and human health, according to the experts.

The commission described as "unjustified" the Belarusian government's decision to reject less dangerous and cheaper energy projects in favor of the nuclear energy program.

The commission's findings will be sent to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.
The nuclear power plant, which is estimated to cost some $9 billion, is expected to be built in the Hrodna region near the Lithuanian border. The plant is projected to account for 27 to 30 percent of the total domestic electricity output. One of the plant's two reactors is to be put into operation in 2016 and the other in 2018.