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2020.10.27 09:34

Belarus planned launch of nuclear plant danger to 'EU citizens' – Lithuanian president

BNS, LRT.lt2020.10.27 09:34

Belarus’ nuclear plant located some 50 kilometres from Vilnius will begin power production on November 1–10, according to Litgrid, Lithuania’s transmission system operator.

After Belemergo, the Belarusian operator, informed Litgrid on Monday about the planned operations, the Lithuanian company said it would set zero capacity for electricity imports from Belarus.

"We will immediately set 0 MW capacity for commercial power flows from Belarus. We are closely monitoring the situation and are ready to take action," Vidmantas Grušas, acting CEO at Litgrid, said in a statement.

Under the so-called anti-Astravyets law, Lithuania will block energy imports from Belarus and will also halt the provision of power reserves once it launches the plant.

Currently, Lithuania and Belarus are part of the same Moscow-controlled BRELL power grid, which also includes the other Baltic states. In the grid, the reserve and emergency power capacity is currently provided by the Kruonis pumped storage plant in Lithuania.

Read more: Kremlin may threaten nuclear incidents in Belarus to blackmail Lithuania – MP

Astravyets nuclear plant is being built by Russia’s state atomic agency Rosatom, funded by a loan from the Kremlin. Critics say the plant will be used to increase Belarus' dependence on Russia, and will also pressure the Baltic states against switching from the BRELL energy grid that includes Belarus and Russia.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are due to connect with the continental European system by 2025. To oppose the export-orientated project, Lithuania has been seeking a joint Baltic boycott of its energy.

Read more: Latvia backs Lithuania in nuclear dispute with Belarus after months of negotiations

The Lithuanian government also says the facility has been built in violation of safety and environmental requirements, an allegation that Minsk denies.

Lithuanian president: security threat to EU citizens

On Monday, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda had a phone conversation with European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis to discuss safety issues at the Astravyets NPP.

The plant “poses a threat to the security of EU citizens,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said in a press release.

“The EU must not allow electricity generated by the third-country producers which do not meet the highest standards of nuclear safety and environmental protection to enter the market," he said.

Read more: 10 questions about Belarusian nuclear plant. What would happen to Lithuania in case of accident?