Belarus fails to do its work2011-03-22
The environmental impact assessment (EIA) report prepared by Belarus on a nuclear power plant planned to be built in the country is inadequate and Lithuania is critical of it.
This is stated in a letter of the Ministry of Environment presenting the official position of Lithuania sent to the neighbouring country on Friday. "Once again we are sending a clear and unambiguous signal that we do not approve of the EIA report and the planned construction of a nuclear power plant just 50 kilometres from Vilnius," Gediminas Kazlauskas, the Minister of Environment, said.
According to the minister, Belarus will also be informed that Lithuania will actively defend its position on the international scale like it has done so far. "We have already taken and will take all possible measures to achieve that our position is heard and our criticism and comments are taken into account," Kazlauskas said.
The letter sent to Belarus is based on comments of the competent authorities of Lithuania. Firstly, nuclear power plant site selection criteria and alternatives are not analysed in the report prepared by Belarus. Secondly, the report does not assess and analyse the scale of total radiation damage in the event of possible incidents. Thirdly, the EIA report does not provide sufficient data on the geological, seismic and seismo-tectonic characteristics of the selected site. Fourthly, the issue of spent fuel reprocessing and storage is not analysed. Fifthly, the possibility of a heavy airplane crash caused by terrorists at the Astraviec site has not been evaluated. Sixthly, the impact of a nuclear power plant to be built in the Astraviec site on the ecosystem and hydrological regime of the River Neris as a result of thermal pollution has not been studied sufficiently.
The Ministry of Environment reminded that Lithuanian authorities had already presented comments on the poor quality of the EIA report in May last year and therefore the United Nations Espoo Convention obliged Belarus to organise public debates in Lithuania and bilateral consultations. So far Belarus has ignored Lithuania's call for holding additional public debates in Lithuania, although it is a peremptory requirement of the Espoo Convention.
The Convention provides for a special procedure for settling potential disputes between Member States. Lithuania's request would be officially considered upon the completion of EIA procedures on the Belarusian side (public discussions, consultations). If one of the parties to the dispute does not agree with the findings of the Monitoring Committee, the dispute concerning proper implementation of international obligations would have to be settled by arbitration.
Tomas Beržinskas, Spokesman for the Minister of Environment, tel. 219 1868
22 March 2011