Nuclear plans worry neighbors

  • 2010-05-26

VILNIUS - The probable construction of a nuclear power plant in dictatorial Belarus causes concern for the neighboring countries, reports news agency LETA. Lithuania stands against the nuclear power plant (NPP) construction in Belarus, which will be built a little more than 55 km from Vilnius, Charter 97 reports.

As Polskie Radio reports, experts suppose that selection of the Belarusian NPP location (Astravets, in the Hrodna region) is a place where the borders of Poland, Lithuania, the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast and Belarus meet.
Experts from Russia, Ukraine, and Austria believe Belarus hasn’t analyzed the plant’s effect on the environment. Belarus’ neighbors are concerned about selection of possible design engineers and builders. Iran is named among potential builders of the nuclear reactor. According to observers, this increases the risk, and decreases confidence of the international community in Belarus’ initiative.

As Gazeta Wyborcza notes, under international law, Belarus is obliged to discuss the issue of the NPP construction with its neighbors. However, experience shows that objections do not lead to abandonment of the project’s implementation. For example, the Czech Republic built a nuclear plant in Temelin, contrary to Austria’s position.
Experts doubt if Lithuania will succeed in blocking the nuclear power plant construction. “The NPP is a political project supported by the Belarusian leadership. The plant won’t be built only if no financing is found,” said politologist Valer Karbalevich in an interview to Gazeta Wyborcza.

“The Polish general direction is for continuing consultations with Belarus. However, the National Atomic Energy Agency sees no problems in the NPP location,” agency representative Stanislaw Latek noted.
Four states - Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and Poland - plan to construct nuclear power plants in the Baltic region. Vilnius believes that in case of an accident at the Belarusian NPP, 80 percent of Lithuania will be contaminated and Vilnius will be destroyed. Building an NPP in Belarus was called “genocide of the Lithuanians” at a public hearing in Lithuania.
In early April, Minsk announced that the plant might be built by French AREVA. Experts from Regnum news agency note though that this company is known for its recent failures of a range of similar projects in Europe, and wasn’t selected for the tender for 20 reactors in the United Arab Emirates.