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Astravets Nuclear Power Plant as the key topic of the meeting between the Lithuanian minister of environment and the EU Commissioner for the Environment

2016-12-19

Today Minister of Environment Kęstutis Navickas, who is taking part in the meeting of the EU Environment Council in Brussels, has met with Karmenu Vella, the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and introduced him to the environmental sector programme of the new Government.

The minister has noted that the programme speaks out against construction of unsafe nuclear power plants in Lithuania’s neighbourhood as there can be no compromises about compliance with the environmental and nuclear safety standards.

According to Kęstutis Navickas, our country is greatly concerned about the nuclear power plant that is rising in Astravets, Belarus, at the EU external border, a mere 50 km away from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, the largest and most densely populated city. The plant is being built breaching the international environmental and nuclear safety standards and the principles of transparency and good neighbourliness.

According to the minister, the position of Lithuania is supported by decisions of the parties to the Espoo and Aarhus Conventions made to date. The meetings of the parties in 2017 will evaluate how Belarus is implementing those decisions. As Kęstutis Navickas has noted, unfortunately no progress is seen. The serious incidents occurring regularly on the site of the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant show that construction operations are carried out with haste and ignoring the international obligations and recommendations.

The questions constantly raised by our country, in particular those of the choice of the site for this nuclear power plant, the violations of the Espoo and Aarhus Conventions, the geological, seismic and hydrological studies, the exposure of Lithuania’s population, drinking water and the Neris River to radiation, the incidents on the construction site, etc., were already discussed during the meetings of the Lithuanian and Belarusian experts last June in Vilnius and last September in Minsk. However, the meetings were almost fruitless practically. The experts’ positions differed on all the issues. Therefore, it is the opinion of Lithuania that the European Union should participate actively in addressing these complicated problems.

According to Commissioner Karmenu Vella, the questions raised by Lithuania are already known and understandable. Meeting with Andrej Kovkhuto, Belarusian Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment last October, he stressed the importance of environmental impact assessment and international cooperation for the development of the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant project.

Minister Kęstutis Navickas thanked the Commissioner for his efforts to help solve the problems related to the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant and requested further support into ensure that Belarus fulfils the international obligations as soon as possible.

Communication Division
19/12/2016

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