Minister Linkevičius: the Ostrovets NPP is based on political, not on economic reasoning
The inter-institutional working group for nuclear, radiation environmental safety of nuclear power plants built in the neighbourhood of Lithuania that is headed by the Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Linas Linkevičius, gathered for a meeting on 18 December 2017.
The meeting witnessed an exchange of information about the Ostrovets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) safety problems and the 2017 international events where Lithuania actively raised questions concerning the safety of the Ostrovets NPP and where Belarus was repeatedly found to be violating the requirements of international conventions while developing the Ostrovets NPP. The actions to be taken by Lithuanian institutions in their preparation for the key events in 2018 were on the meeting agenda, too.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs underlined that the Ostrovets NPP was a source of environmental and nuclear threats, and project benefits were simply non-existent.
“Belarus does not need so much electric power, and there are no foreign markets for it. The assessment of potential threats shows that the project is based on political, not on economic reasoning,” Minister Linkevičius said.
At least four international events were held in 2017 where Lithuania actively called for debating on the Ostrovets NPP: the Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the meetings of the parties to the Espoo and Aarhus Conventions, and the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The United Nations Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention held in Minsk in June 2017 (on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context) re-endorsed the decision taken in 2014 which recognised that in constructing the Ostrovets NPP Belarus was violating the provisions of the Espoo Convention. The United Nations Meeting of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention (on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making) held in Montenegro in September came to the same conclusion that in developing the Ostrovets NPP Belarus had violated the Convention provisions on access to information and public participation in making decisions on environmental matters. That was the third statement regarding Belarus’ non-compliance with the Aarhus Convention.
Lithuania continuously reiterates its concern in the international arena about Belarus’ manipulations with international nuclear safety instruments and selective application of safety standards in developing its NPP project in Ostrovets. The focus of Lithuanian concern is the selection of the site for the Ostrovets NPP and possible negative impact on the Lithuanian environment and population as those were not considered neither by the IAEA SEED mission, nor during a stress test by the EU therefore Lithuania sticks to its position that the construction of the Ostrovets NPP should be stopped and the project should be fundamentally reviewed with the help of international experts.
In his effort to strengthen the inter-institutional working group the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued an order on 15 September 2017 to involve the Vice-Minister of Environment, the Vice-Minister of Energy and representatives of the Fire and Rescue Department. The working group is tasked with coordination of the activities of Lithuanian institutions aimed at absence of unsafe nuclear energy objects in Lithuania’s vicinity.
At his meeting in Washington on 22 September, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius discussed Lithuanian and transatlantic security.
The issue of Ostrovets nuclear power plant (NPP) attracted great attention of the international community during the Meeting of the Parties of the Espoo Convention held on 13-16 June in Minsk. Despite intense and difficult discussions the meeting in Minsk concluded without additional decisions with regard to Ostrovets NPP and other cases under the Convention framework. This means that the decision adopted during the Meeting of the Parties of the Espoo Convention of 2014 declaring that Belarus violated four articles of the Convention while implementing the Ostrovets NPP project remains valid.