MINSK, May 26 (Itar-Tass) —— The Belarussian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection has addressed the Lithuanian Environment Ministry with a proposal for holding consultations on plans for building the Visaginas nuclear power plant.
"The Ministry of Natural Resources has offered its Lithuanian counterpart to hold more consultations on a draft bilateral agreement regarding compliance with the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, as well as answer some questions concerning the planned construction of Lithuania’s Visaginas NPP," sources at the Ministry of Natural Resources told Itar-Tass.
The ministry explained that Minsk was interested in issues concerning the construction of the Visaginas nuclear power plant, because Lithuania was planning to "use in its new nuclear power plant some technologies of the Japanese-American corporation Hitachi - GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd and the type of reactor similar to those at the Japanese nuclear power plant Fukushima, which in March 2011 suffered a major nuclear accident."
In addition, the ministry said, Lithuania held engineering-geological and geotechnical studies at the Visaginas site in 2010, that is, after the procedures for assessing the impact on the environment under the Espoo Convention.
"Given the ‘Chernobyl’ experience of a significant part of the country’s population and the large-scale radio-ecological consequences of the Fukushima NPP accident in Japan, the concerns of the Belarusian side over the issues of nuclear safety are understandable and justified," the Ministry of Natural Resources said.
It recalled that Lithuania was going to deploy the Visaginas NPP less than three kilometers away from the border of Belarus.
Earlier, Belarus invited Lithuanian counterparts to discuss issues related to the construction of nuclear power plants in the two countries (the NPP in Belarus’s Grodno region and the Visaginas NPP). The Lithuanian side has not responded.
Minsk accused Lithuania of non-compliance with the provisions of the Espoo Convention in selecting the site for the Visaginas nuclear power plant. In particular, Belarus’s environment ministry claimed that "the report on the assessment of the environmental impact the Visaginas NPP might cause said nothing about the fact that it will be built on a crack in the earth’s crust."
Lithuania does not agree with the plans for the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant at the selected site in the Ostrovets district of the Grodno region near the Lithuanian border.