Updated at 11:09,11-12-2017

Vilnius wants construction of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant suspended until after safety tests

By Alyaksey Areshka, BelaPAN

Lithuania suggests that Belarus suspend the construction of its nuclear power plant until after international experts have conducted tests to prove the facility`s safety, Vitalius Auglis, head of the pollution prevention department at Lithuania`s environment ministry, said following a second day of talks with a Belarusian delegation in Vilnius on June 22.

During the talks, Lithuanian representatives asked to be provided with additional information about the project, as well as called on Belarusian authorities to invite experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency as soon as possible to review the plant`s safety and conduct transparent stress tests, the BNS news agency reported with reference to Mr. Auglis.

He stressed that Vilnius wanted its experts to take part in safety tests at the site.

"We have received no reply so far," the official was quoted as saying. Lithuania hopes that Minsk will give ear to its proposals, he added.

Speaking about the two-day talks, Mr. Auglis said that the Belarusian delegation had provided "much information that is not consistent with what had been provided before."

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.