Updated at 11:56,07-12-2016

Government expert downplays environmental impact of nuclear power plant project

Belarus first-ever nuclear power plant will not have a big impact on the environment, Uladzimir Babrow, deputy director of BelNDPIEnerhapram, a state power generation research company, told reporters in Minsk on September 30.

He referred to the Belarusian governments report on the possible environmental impact of the facility, which is expected to be built in the Hrodna region.

The expert claimed that radioactive materials would not be released beyond the facilitys walls in the event of an accident. The plants reactors will have a number of state-of-the-art safety features, he stressed.

Speaking at a conference in mid-September, environmental experts criticized the report as "sloppy, incomplete and misleading," saying that its estimates for a possible release of radioactive materials into the environment were severely understated.

The report says nothing about protection measures and the handling of a possible accident, as well as about what impact the construction of the facility will have on endangered plant and animal species, they said.

Mr. Babrow noted that the critics erroneously compared the facility with the Chernobyl plant while estimating the extent of a possible release of radioactive materials. At the same time, he recognized that the authors of the environmental impact report had not studied the environmental influence of a Chinese plant that has reactors of the same type. "The Chinese side has failed to provide information to us so far, they have not even responded to our request," he said.

Mr. Babrow promised that the company would reply to all questions raised over the environmental aspect of the project.