Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

Belarus disregards possibility of disaster at Astravyets N-plant - Lithuanian official

The Baltic Times

Belarus disregards possibility of disaster at Astravyets N-plant - Lithuanian official
Power plant 4 in Minsk, Belarus [Alex Zelenko]
A Lithuanian official believes that Belarusians continue to brush off the likelihood of a catastrophe occurring at their nuclear power plant under construction because they feel that such incidents as those at Fukushima or Chernobyl are impossible at Astravyets.

"They say that such an accident is impossible in principle, but when you start discussing this and say that the probability of such an accident is not zero, they admit that it is not zero, but very close to zero," Vitalijus Auglys, director of the Pollution Prevention Department at the Lithuanian Environment Ministry, informed BNS.

"However, in Fukushima's case, nobody expected a tsunami wave. What we want is that they assess these risks under the worst-case scenario. However, they say, 'No, this cannot happen; we have many protective systems and we are not assessing," he stated.

According to Auglys, little progress was made during two days of talks concerning the Astravyets plant’s security in Minsk this week, with the exception of stress tests and a mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which Belarus had previously declined to consider.

"The only progress is that the construction is advancing. Another thing is that some dates regarding stress tests and an IAEA mission seem to be emerging at last. They were earlier reluctant to give any dates, but now they say that all this may happen by December," he said.

The official commented on the challenges of communicating with his country’s neighbour, which wants dialogue, but has done little to achieve it.

Lithuania is the most assertive critic of the Astravyets project, maintaining that Belarus has continually failed to guarantee safety at the plant being built a mere 50 kilometres from Vilnius. Minsk has dismissed the criticism, promising to ensure the highest safety standards at the facility.

Multiple minor accidents and more serious ones have taken place at the Astravyets construction site.