Updated at 11:50,16-10-2017

Lithuanian experts invited to Minsk for fresh consultations on safety of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant

By Zakhar Shcharbakow, BelaPAN

The Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection said in a statement on June 23 that Lithuanian experts had been invited to visit Belarus for a fresh round of consultations on the safety of the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, which is under construction in the Hrodna region.

"We express readiness to continue bilateral dialogue at the level of experts on issues of a scientific and technical nature that are of interest to Lithuania," said the statement.

The statement was issued following two days of talks between Belarusian and Lithuanian experts in Vilnius, which the former used to try to reassure the Baltic country over the facility's safety.

"Belarus is satisfied in general with the fact that the first expert consultations on the construction of the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant were held," said the ministry.

It added that Belarus was concerned about Lithuania's efforts to "politicize" discussions on the project and condemned as "unacceptable" the Baltic country's calls for suspending the construction of the plant.

Speaking after the June 21-22 consultations, Vitalius Auglis, head of the pollution prevention department at Lithuania's environment ministry, said that Vilnius wanted the construction of the plant halted until after international experts conducted tests to prove the facility's safety.

The Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant is currently under construction in the Astravets district, Hrodna region, close to the Lithuanian border and just some 50 kilometers away from Vilnius. Its two reactors are to have a total generating capacity of up to 2,400 megawatts. The first reactor is expected to be put into operation in November 2018 and the other in July 2020.

Vilnius has fiercely criticized the project and accused the Belarusian government of violating the UN Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention).

Minsk has shrugged off the criticism and described the plant as completely safe.