Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant was recognised as a threat to Lithuania’s national security by a law passed by the Seimas
Press release, 15 June 2017
By a unanimous vote of 104 MPs in favour, the Seimas recognised the construction of a nuclear power plant in Astravyets, Republic of Belarus, to be a threat to the national security of the Republic of Lithuania.
“Lithuania takes the lead role in addressing the issue. This is not the first, yet a very solid and significant step in ensuring the security of our country and our people. A lot of work lies before us. We need to work in cooperation with our neighbours and convince our partners in the European Union either to suspend the construction, or prevent the power plant from ever starting its operation under the current circumstances,” Vytautas Bakas, Chair of the Committee on National Security and Defence Committee, said.
In the context of presentation of the draft at the Seimas, Simonas Šatūnas, Vice-Minister for Energy, noted that the Astravyets NPP is less than 100 km from the Lithuanian border. As a result, a part of Lithuania’s territory lies in the plant’s extended emergency planning zone. Belarus has failed to provide any evidence of having properly considered the size and distribution of the Lithuanian population in choosing the location for the facility, and of having taken account of other factors that are relevant for ensuring the plant’s emergency preparedness. No proof of radiological impact assessment under normal operation and in emergency situations was submitted, either.
Belarus equally failed to submit any evidence of acceptably low level risk of exposure of the population to the harmful effects of ionising radiation in the event of an accident. Lithuania’s government assessment notes that, in selecting the Astravyets region as a location for the construction of the NPP, Belarus failed to properly assess the possible seismic and other natural risks. Furthermore, no evidence was provided that the NPP site was selected in accordance with IAEA safety requirements.
“The IAEA mission was not a full-scale mission: only two out of six modules were completed. They were related exceptionally to resilience of the planned nuclear facilities against external risks. This means that the IAEA did not complete the modules on the selection and assessment of the site itself, its location, and environmental impact. This is an essential point,” the Vice Minister said.
According to Mr Šatūnas, the NPP was not subject to stress tests. Belarus is breaching the Convention on Nuclear Safety by failing to comply with the nuclear safety requirements in the selection of the site for the construction of the nuclear power plant and the preparation of the safety design solutions. Measures of protection under the Espoo Convention are also not implemented.
The Seimas adopted the Law on the basis of the Government assessment. The Government made an assessment of the Astravyets NPP in compliance with the Law on Necessary Measures against the Threats Posed by Unsafe Nuclear Power Plants in Third Countries of 20 April 2017 and assessed the situation against seven criteria. The assessment was conducted on the basis of the data submitted by ten institutions, including the Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI), State Security Department, Radiation Protection Centre, Environmental Protection Agency, Lithuanian Hydrometeorological Service under the Ministry of Environment, and Fire and Rescue Department. The information submitted by the Government was analysed at the Seimas Committee on Economics and Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence.
Saulė Eglė Trembo, Chief Specialist, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, Office of the Seimas, tel. +370 5 239 6203, e-mail: [email protected]
Eglė Saulė Trembo