Lithuania is taking steps to secure adequate compensation for damage in the event of an accident at Belarus' Astravyets nuclear power plant. However, this also means increasing Lithuania's own liability for its shut down Ignalina NPP.
The cabinet approved on Wednesday legislative amendments, drafted by the Energy Ministry, that call for ratifying the Protocol to Amend the 1963 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and the Convention on Supplementary Compensation, but the final decisions will be made by the parliament.
Lithuania has signed the protocol, but has not ratified it. Latvia, Poland and Belarus have joined it.
“Ratification of this protocol will put Lithuania in a better position to claim damages and, at the same time, receive greater compensation from Belarus in the event of a nuclear accident at the Astravyets NPP,” the ministry told BNS.
Lithuania and Belarus are currently in “different regimes of the Vienna Convention”, meaning that the neighbouring country could use exceptions envisaged in the protocol and refuse to compensate the Lithuanian population for damage in the event of an accident in Astravyets or offer smaller compensation.
Once Lithuania ratifies the protocol, its civil liability for nuclear damage will be the same as that of Belarus. For example, the minimum level of liability will be 300 million Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), or around 360 million euros at current prices.
Proper regulation of compensation is important for Lithuania, too, because the country will have to insure its civil liability of Ignalina plant, which may cost around 100,000 euros.
Ignalina NPP was shut down in 2009, but its decommissioning is scheduled to last until 2038.