2020.04.14 13:00

Launch of Belarus’ nuclear plant near Lithuania delayed again, BNS 2020.04.14 13:00

Belarus plans to launch the Astravyets nuclear plant, located some 50 kilometres from Vilnius and considered unsafe by the Lithuanian authorities, by autumn this year.

The plant should become operation in July, and will be connected to the Belarusian power grid in September or October, the Belarusian Energy Minister Viktar Karankevich said on April 11.

Read more: Lithuanians stage mock evacuations to train for nuclear accident – photos

“If there will be any corrections in the future, we will react [swiftly],” he said, without namig the reasons for another delay at the Astravyets NPP.

The first reactor was due to launch in autumn 2018, but was delayed to mid-2019, and then again to autumn 2019, and finally, to January 2020. The timescale was later extended to the second quarter of 2020.

Read more: Lithuania fears Belarus hasn't ‘learned lessons of Chernobyl’

The power plant is being built by the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, and is funded by a Russian state-loan.

Lithuania maintains the facility close to the country's border and only around 50 kilometres from Vilnius was built in breach of safety standards, including the UN’s Espoo and Aarhus environmental conventions.

In January, Lithuanian Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the Belarusian plant is "a threat to our national security, public health, and environment".

"The key question is the site selection, which was done politically – geopolitically," Vaičiūnas told RFE/RL.

Minsk denies all allegations.