Kęstutis Trečiokas: “There cannot be any concessions on the matter of the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant”2016-06-21
During the two-day meeting of Lithuanian and Belarusian experts regarding the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which has started at the Ministry of Environment today, our country’s representatives will make repeated efforts to receive answers to the main questions raised by Lithuania regarding the safety of the nuclear power plant being built at a distance of mere 40 km from Vilnius.
“There cannot be any concessions on the matter of Astravyets NPP”, says Minister Kęstutis Trečiokas, who is currently participating in the meeting of the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg. “Unfortunately, some politicians want to include this bilateral meeting of experts but not government officials into the field of the approaching election campaign and try to score a goal by misleading the public that the Ministry of Environment and other institutions give concessions regarding the unsafe construction of this power plant and betray the country’s interests.”
According to the Minister, it is hard to count how many times the Ministry of Environment representing the State has submitted questions to Belarus regarding the potential impact of the Astravyets NPP on the environment and people in Lithuania. These questions have been raised since August 2009 when Belarus officially informed that they are planning to build the first NPP in their country. Lithuania presented material comments and drew particular attention to potential negative consequences if the Astravyets site had been chosen for the construction of the NPP.
As Belarus did not take into account these comments and, on the initiative of Lithuania, the Astravyets NPP “case” became a matter within the scope of international organisations. Following the complaint of our country, the Implementation Committee of the UN Espoo Convention announced in 2014 that the Astravyets NPP construction project violates the requirements of this Convention and provided recommendations for rectifying them. These recommendations have not been implemented yet. The complaint filed by Lithuania is also being examined by the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee.
“If we do not say loudly what we do on the matter of the safety of the Astravyets NPP on a daily basis” says Kęstutis Trečiokas, “it does not mean that we have fallen asleep or have come to terms with the current situation. I constantly raise this issue during meeting, both official and unofficial, with the Ministers of the Baltic countries, Poland and other EU Member States. In April, I discussed this issue at the meeting with M. A. Canete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. According to the Commissioner, the European Commission will make every effort to ensure that Belarus would carry out the potential environmental impact assessment of the Astravyets NPP and the so-called “stress test” applicable to nuclear power plants properly”.
21 June 2016