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2020.08.07 15:13

Lithuania sends note to Minsk, condemning Astravyets nuclear plant works

BNS2020.08.07 15:13

Lithuania has strongly condemned the start of Astravyets nuclear power plant launch, with the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs handing a diplomatic note to Minsk on Friday.

The document strongly condemns Belarus' actions, the ministry said, adding that Belarus' actions have violated the principles of openness, transparency and good neighbourhood.

Read more: Belarus informs Lithuania about fuel delivery to Astravyets nuclear plant

The document also states that the nuclear facility's closeness to the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, unresolved nuclear safety problems and the failure to ensure safety during the plant's construction pose a direct threat to Lithuania's national security, the safety of the environment and Lithuanian residents.

Lithuania calls on Minsk to halt the nuclear power plant's launch until the European Union's stress-test recommendations are implemented, to cooperate with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), the European Commission and other international organisations.

Awaiting EC's reaction

Lithuania is awaiting reactions from the European Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reaction as Belarus starts loading fuel into its Astravyet's nuclear power plant's 1st reactor, Lithuania's energy minister said on Friday.

“We expect a principled reaction from both the European Commission and the IAEA as the nuclear fuel loading stage means they are approaching the nuclear facility's launch, and the European Commission's active steps are needed regarding the implementation of the nuclear safety recommendations and safety standards,” Žygimantas Vaičiūnas told reporters.

The Astravyet's NPP's physical tests have in essence begun and the facility could start producing power in a couple of months, Michail Demčenko, the head of Lithuania's State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI), said.

“The launch has begun. The first stage of a nuclear power plant's launch is its physical launch which begins with the delivery of fuel to the block and loading it into the reactor. The permit has been issued, so that stage has practically begun,” Demčenko said.

Lithuania's power transmission operator Litgrid has already informed the Nord Pool Spot market's participants that with the beginning of the energy stage, i.e., the production of electricity at the Astravyets NPP, power trade via the Lithuanian-Belarusian link will be stopped.

Read more: Belarus nuclear plant launch planned this week