Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Lithuanian government to appoint special envoy to coordinate actions of ministries regarding construction of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant

By Alyaksey Areshka, BelaPAN

Lithuanian government to appoint special envoy to coordinate actions of ministries regarding construction of Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant
The Lithuanian government will appoint a special envoy to coordinate the actions of ministries regarding the construction of the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, Lithuania's Delfi news agency reported on Wednesday.

A decision to this effect was announced at a January 3 meeting of the Lithuanian ministers of foreign affairs, environmental protection and energy.

A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said that such an appointment would be made this week. There was no word on who may get the job, said Delfi.

At their meeting, the ministers reportedly signed letters alerting senior European Commission officials and the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to what they described as the sixth accident connected with the Belarusian nuclear project. They warned that the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant would pose a threat to the entire region if international safety requirements continued to be ignored by Belarus.

The Lithuanian foreign ministry on December 29 summoned Belarusian Ambassador Alyaksandr Karol over reports that a new reactor pressure vessel (RPV) for the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant had been involved in an accident on its way to the construction site.

The ambassador was handed a note demanding that more details about the accident should be urgently provided to Lithuania.

Authorities said that the RPV's protective metal casing had "touched" an overhead line mast at a railroad station in Belarus, but stressed that no damage to the vessel had been detected.

Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Russia's Nuclear Energy State Corporation (Rosatom) that is the prime contractor in the project, promised that the RPV would be thoroughly examined by experts after its arrival at the construction site. All safety requirements were met during the RPV's transportation, it stressed.

The RPV was dispatched by Atommash, a subsidiary of Russia’s AEM-Technology located in the city of Volgodonsk, Rostov province, at the end of October and arrived at its destination on the evening of December 28.

Another Atommash-made RPV, which was delivered to the construction site in December 2015, was sent back this past summer following an accident.
In the July 10 accident, the vessel was dropped from a height to the ground after a crane failure.

Although Rosatom insisted that the RPV "slipped down slowly" and "softly touched the ground" in the accident and was not damaged, the company eventually agreed to supply a new vessel.

The Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant is currently under construction in the Astravets district, Hrodna region, some 10 miles from the Lithuanian border. 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 2019 and the other in July 2020.