Vilnius is calling off a planned simulation of a nuclear disaster. The drill, originally planned for early September, was to test the city's response to a potential incident at the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus, some 50 kilometres from the Lithuanian capital.
Speaking with BNS on Monday, Povilas Poderskis, the administration director at Vilnius City Municipality, confirmed that the September 5 exercise would not take place. Instead, the city plans to join a national exercise in October.
“This way, we will save money and human resources. We are also glad that this problem is finally being addressed properly and an exercise will take place. If we see during the national exercise that our readiness is insufficient, then we will plan our actions,” Poderskis told BNS.
Vilnius authorities' plans for the drill met resistance from the Ministries of the Interior and National Defence, according to BNS sources. The Fire and Rescue Department and the military's Grand Duke Gediminas Staff Battalion have cancelled their participation in the exercise.
During internal communication on the matter, the municipality's management assumed that partners called off their involvement because the exercise “would have disclosed a lot of drawbacks and problems in the whole system”, and thought that the former interior minister, Eimutis Misiūnas, was responsible for the decisions.
Misiūnas said earlier in public that Vilnius authorities were unnecessarily sowing panic with such drills.
The Lithuanian government says that the Astravyets plant under construction some 50 kilometers from Vilnius fails to meet international safety and environmental standards, an allegation that Minsk rejects.