Lithuanian authorities will conduct an exercise next month to test their readiness to respond to a potential nuclear accident at Belarus' Astravyets nuclear plant, involving an evacuation drill in and around Vilnius and the giving out of iodine tablets, Interior Minister Rita Tamašunienė said on Thursday.
On the morning of the first day of the exercise, sirens will sound across the municipalities and residents will receive warning messages. Information will be broadcasted on Lithuanian public radio and television, and published on the LT72 emergency preparedness website.
The exercise will be cover six municipalities, including Vilnius, on October 1-4 and will involve the government's office, the Interior Ministry and other authorities, Tamašunienė told the Ziniu Radijas radio.
"We will test how state and municipal emergency response centers operate and provide information to the population," the minister said.
The nuclear accident response readiness drill will also involve an evacuation exercise, she added.
According to the minister, the aim of the drill is not to intimidate members of the public, but to alert and inform them about appropriate actions in the event of a nuclear emergency.
The State Border Protection Service and other relevant bodies will get involved on the second and third days. Samples of soil, drinking water and food products will be taken and analyzed at laboratories as part of the drill.
The results of the exercise will be discussed on the fourth day.
"We want people to remain calm and understand that this is an exercise," the minister said.
Experts from Estonia, Latvia, Poland, the United Kingdom, Romania are also planning to participate in the exercise which will cover cities and districts close to the Belarusian border – Vilnius, Švenčionys, Šalčininkai, Kalvarija and Zarasai.
The Lithuanian government says the Astravyets plant under construction some 50 kilometers from Vilnius and less than 30 kilometers from the Lithuanian border fails to meet international safety and environmental standards, an allegation that Minsk denies.