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2019.06.28 09:00

Lithuanian authorities prepared for potential Belarus' nuclear accident, interior minister says

Ignas Jačauskas, BNS2019.06.28 09:00

Interior Minister Eimutis Misiūnas says Lithuania's authorities are ready for a potential accident at Belarus' Astravyets nuclear power plant. 

"The authorities are ready. It is very clearly defined what each of them must do. Some are responsible for the decontamination of the environment, others for the distribution of iodine, and still others for informing [the public]," he told news radio Žinių Radijas on Thursday. 

According to the minister, a joint table-top exercise took place in early May and the next functional drill that will simulate an evacuation of people and decision-making processes in local and central government bodies is scheduled for the fall. 

Around 20,000 people living within 30 kilometers from Astravyets would have to be evacuated in "the worst-case scenario" of strong easterly winds, Misiūnas said, noting that the likelihood of such a scenario is very low. 

As part of preparations for the planned launch of the Astravyets plant, which is located around 50 kilometers from Vilnius and less than 30 kilometers from the border, Lithuania plans to purchase around 4 million iodine tablets, estimated to cost nearly a million euros, officials at the Health Ministry said on Wednesday.

These tablets would be handed out to residents of border areas and Vilnius. Officials say the capital would not be evacuated in the event of an accident at Astravyets. 

Belarus plans to launch the first reactor at Astravyets this fall. 

Lithuania's authorities say the Astravyets plant fails to meet international safety standards, an allegation that Minsk denies.