Lithuania calls on International Atomic Energy Agency to take action to solve safety issues of Ostrovets NPP
On 24 May, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) received a letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius the and the Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas about unresolved nuclear safety issues of the Ostrovets nuclear power plant project.
In the joint letter, ministers express their concern over a failure by Belarus to fulfil recommendations in the conclusions that were made by international experts from the IAEA, Espoo Convention, and during the EU’s stress tests.
“Lithuania calls on the international authority, General Director Yukiya Amano, to personally urge Belarus not to start operating the Ostrovets NPP until all safety issues are resolved. The Ostrovets NPP can determine the future of nuclear power. Thus, we have proposed implementing an integrated package of recommendations at the IAEA level that could help avoid a selective approach to ensuring safety of all countries, which are starting their nuclear power programs,” said Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs L. Linkevičius.
Lithuania consistently and actively raises questions about the environmental impact, nuclear and radiation protection of the Ostrovets NPP with the European Union, the United Nations, conventions and bodies of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The EU peer review report on stress tests on the Ostrovets NPP, which was published in July 2018, identified serious safety deficiencies and made recommendations for their removal. Despite the EU‘s repeated call on Belarus to present a National Action Plan for addressing the identified shortcomings, the country has so far failed to come up with such a plan. Belarus continues to deny obvious facts and international decisions.
In February, the Meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention) decided that Belarus had failed to justify the selection of the construction site for the Ostrovets NPP and, thus, violated three articles of the Espoo Convention.
The letter draws attention to the fact that Belarus has so far not fully implemented the recommendations made in the conclusions of the IAEA‘s missions in 2012, 2016, and 2018. For example, Belarus has not joined the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material; gaps remain in the regulatory and supervisory framework for nuclear safety; emergency preparedness regulation system in Belarus does not meet the IAEA‘s latest safety standards (that were upgraded after the Fukushima accident). In addition, the IAEA‘s site inspection mission in 2017 was limited by Belarus itself and did not assess selection criteria for the Ostrovets NPP.
On 3 May, the Lithuanian Foreign and Energy Ministers sent a joint letter to the Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini, the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the European Commission Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete, and the European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn. In the letter, the ministers proposed that the European Commission should take the lead and develop a comprehensive action plan for the EU's next steps with regard to the Ostrovets NPP.