Astravyets NPP's stress tests are only beginning of road – Lithuanian formin
The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) review of the stress tests carried out at the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant, under construction in Belarus, which revealed a number of drawbacks, is just the beginning of its assessment, Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius said.
In his words, a lot of things will depend on the implementation of the EU recommendations.
According to Linkevičius, the stress tests carried out under the EU methodology confirmed that the Astravyets NPP is not safe. Critical recommendations must be implemented before the start of the nuclear facility's operation, and that would be a condition for further EU-Belarus cooperation, he said.
"The stress tests were carried out under the EU technology. That's alright but it's only the beginning of the road. Major and important work is related to the implementation of the recommendations which are not simple, as attempts are being made to show. They are complicated, demanding, not cheap. We do not believe the facility can receive an operation license without the implementation of these recommendations," Linkevičius told BNS, commenting on the results of the ENSREG review, published on Jul 3.
The Lithuanian foreign minister hopes that Belarus would give proper attention to the provided comments.
"We appreciate the European Commission's involvement from the very beginning, and EU leaders have very clearly said that it's not only Lithuania's headache. We do believe that the European Commission will take part in this monitoring process together with us, and we will continue consistently raising these issues in a principled manner as we have done that so far. (…) Experts will do there analyses, provide recommendations and they will have to be implemented. We'll see what Belarus will say. If they refuse to implement, than it will be the first step towards showing their attitude to the problem," the Lithuanian foreign minister said.
Linkevičius also underlined that the stress tests are an important process but they are not a final and comprehensive safety assessment answering all questions raised by Lithuania.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the report recorded the project's serious drawbacks and provided key recommendations, especially in the areas of the assessment of seismic safety, the improvement of safety functions and severe accident management.
The key question raised by Lithuania and having to do with the choice of the Astravyets NPP construction site was not addressed in the report.
The stress tests were carried out by Atomprojekt, a subsidiary of the project's main contractor Rosatom, in 2016.
Lithuania, the main critic of the Astravyets plant under construction just 50 kilometers from Vilnius, last year declared the project a threat to national security, the environment and public health.