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In Geneva, the Minister confirmed a strict Lithuania’s position regarding the planned nuclear power plants in Belarus and the Kaliningrad region

2011-06-23

During the 5th meeting in Geneva, at the Palace of Nations, of the countries of the United Nations Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the so-called Espoo Convention), the Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Lithuania Gediminas Kazlauskas confirmed a strict Lithuania’s position regarding the plans to construct nuclear power plants close to the border of our country with Belarus and the Kaliningrad region.

The Minister noted that environmental impact is not restricted by state borders. This has been clearly demonstrated both by a painful experience of Chernobyl and the recent accident in Japan, in the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Therefore, the countries of the Espoo Convention must promote the extension of application of the provisions of this international agreement to the countries who have not signed the Convention. After all, a design of each nuclear power plant, regardless of the country where the plant is built, must be in compliance with the highest safety standards. The design must be prepared and implemented in conformity with all international requirements of the nuclear energy sector and environmental protection, including the requirements and procedures of international environmental impact assessment. The application of the provisions of the Espoo Convention is the main condition for ensuring the transparency and reliability of nuclear power plant projects.

Since the projects of the Astravas nuclear power plant in Belarus and the Kaliningrad nuclear power plant, even during the phase of their development, are prepared without observing international requirements for nuclear safety, radiation safety and environmental protection and without taking into account the provisions of the Espoo Convention and the Convention on Nuclear Safety, Lithuania has reasonable doubts as to whether, having constructed these nuclear power plants, they would be operated in a safe manner.

Minister Gediminas Kazlauskas informed representatives of different countries assembled in Geneva that Lithuania filed an official complaint to the Secretariat and the Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention regarding possible violations of this Convention in the performance of procedures of the international environmental impact assessment of the design of the nuclear power plant in Belarus. Lithuania has also asked to call on the Russian Federation to comply with the provisions of the Espoo Convention in the implementation of the nuclear power plant project in the Kaliningrad region in order to ensure transparency and publicity of this project. Though it has not yet ratified the said Convention, Russia officially states that in the implementation of the nuclear power plant project in Kaliningrad it is going to comply with the requirements of the Convention.

On behalf of our country, the Minister called on the countries which have acceded to the Convention as well as the Secretariat and the Implementation Committee of the Convention to consider the experience of accidents in nuclear power plants, strengthen the role of the Espoo Convention in the implementation of projects related to the nuclear energy sector and promote the application of the provisions of the Convention in countries which have not acceded to the Convention.

Information of the Ministry of the Environment, tel. +370 5 266 3660

23 June 2011

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas