A four-day civil protection exercise is kicking off in Lithuania on Tuesday to test how the authorities are ready to respond to a potential accident at the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus.
The exercise will follow a hypothetical scenario in which Belarus does not inform Lithuania about an accident in the Astravyets plant, but Lithuania's monitoring systems register increased air and water pollution levels.
It will involve evacuation drills in southeastern municipalities and testing the national emergency population warning system.
On Tuesday, the emergency population warning system will be tested nationwide. Sirens will sound and people will receive warning messages. Information will be broadcast on LRT Television and Radio.
The Emergency Commission will meet in the afternoon to approve the exercise plan and the person in charge of the operations.
On Wednesday, evacuation drills will be held. Groups of 50 volunteers will be evacuated from Švenčionys District to Zarasai District and from Vilnius District to the municipality of Kalvarija.
In a so-called “temporary relocation” drill, the same number of volunteers will be moved from Šalčininkai District to Varėna District.
Rescuers will simulate human decontamination procedures and handing out iodine tablets.
An aerial radiation survey involving two helicopters and a ground radiation survey will be conducted on Thursday.
The results of the nuclear accident response readiness exercise will be discussed on Friday.
The exercise will involve a total of 24 public institutions and six municipalities, including around 300 officers, soldiers and public servants, and observers from the United Kingdom, Latvia, Estonia and Poland.
Vilnius municipal officials will only take part as observers after the city and the central government failed to agree on the scenario.
The Lithuanian government says that the Astravyets nuclear power plant, currently 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.