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Belarus Proceeding With Russian-Built Nuclear Plant Despite Accidents, Quake Worries, And Neighbors’ Objections via RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty

With the construction of Belarus’s controversial Astravets nuclear power plant hurtling forward, the dissonance between Minsk and Vilnius over the project could not be greater.

Lithuania — whose capital lies less than 50 kilometers from Astravets — has protested vehemently against the construction of the plant since it was announced in 2008.

Along with objecting to Minsk’s decision to build the plant so close to Vilnius — which along with Astravets is in a seismic-activity zone — Lithuanian officials are concerned that Minsk has not allowed a full inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Adding to the worries in Vilnius is the secrecy of Belarusian officials when faced with 10 accidents and three deaths that occurred during the construction of the plant, which began in 2013.


Apparently Nontransparent

Belarusian officials were slow to report any of the string of accidents that occurred during construction, including when a 330-ton nuclear reactor shell fell and was damaged on July 10, 2016, ultimately having to be replaced.


While addressing a visiting group of journalists during an August 23 tour of Astravets, Belarusian Deputy Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadzyuk said Minsk had provided Lithuania “with all the answers” to its worries regarding the plant and complained that officials in Vilnius have been “politicizing” the issue.

Lithuanian officials reject that claim, saying Belarus has ignored their concerns about the plant.


Quaking Worries

Lithuania is also worried about the seismic activity that has occurred in the region where the plant is being built, pointing to two minor earthquakes in 1987 and a report by the Belarusian Academy of Sciences in 1993 that stated Astravets was unsuitable as a location for a nuclear plant because of the tremors.

A serious earthquake also shook the region in 1908 and there have been a total of 40 known earthquakes in the East Baltic Sea region since the 17th century.


Poland recently joined the boycott of Astravets energy.

“I think that the technologies are not safe and a lack of safety resulted in the Chernobyl disaster,” said Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski on August 6. “Therefore we are against the Astravets nuclear power plant and we are not going to buy its energy.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meanwhile, issued a recommendation on June 27 for the construction at Astravets to be suspended.


“Our nuclear power plant [being built at Astravets]…is a fishbone in the throat of the EU and the Baltic states,” said Lukashenka in an address at Minsk’s Belarusian Agrarian Technical University.

Lithuanian officials also note with concern the creation of a new military unit — ostensibly to protect the nuclear plant — and an air base being built near Astravets at which the troops stationed there will undergo training in Belarus and Russia.

Read more at Belarus Proceeding With Russian-Built Nuclear Plant Despite Accidents, Quake Worries, And Neighbors’ Objections 

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