On the 4th of July the European Commission (EC) published the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant (hereinafter – Astravets NPP) stress test report. According to Lithuanian Minister of Energy Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, Belarus must rectify all deviations from international and universally recognised nuclear safety requirements according to the recommendations of the expert group. This would make it possible to at least speak about partial Astravets NPP security, since the stress tests carried out by Belarus are just one of the elements in ensuring nuclear safety.

“This report is just the first step. The key principle, that Lithuania adheres to consistently, is that Belarus must implement the expert recommendations before being issued a license for the Astravets NPP. It should not be left as recommendations on paper, which are convenient to use for propagandistic interpretations. It is in the interest of both Lithuania and the EU, as well as the very people of Belarus, to strive to ensure that the shortcomings that have been established – which are essential in terms of safety – be remedied. We cannot imagine that the Astravets NPP could get a license to operate without implementing these recommendations and answering other important questions about safety,” says the Minister of Energy.

According to the Lithuanian Minister of Energy, it is crucial, that the EC also takes the position that the expert conclusions must be properly implemented. In the statement that was distributed, the EC calls on the Belarusian authorities to develop a National Action Plan that provides for timely implementation of all of the recommendations specified in the report. The EC also expressed that it is ready to stay involved in this process and participate in monitoring, whether Belarus is adequately implementing the measures to increase the safety of the Astravets NPP. The report notes that the EC regards nuclear safety as a central topic in further EU relations with Belarus.

According to the EC, the Action Plan should be subject to a future independent review. This was done by all EU and non-EU countries that voluntarily participated in the stress test process after the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.

It should be noted that the stress tests carried out by Belarus are just one of the elements of ensuring nuclear safety. During stress tests, the resistance of the nuclear power plant to risks caused by external factors (for example, extreme natural events, human-induced events) is assessed. However, the stress tests do not evaluate a key factor: suitability of the site chosen for construction of the Astravets NPP. They also do not include cross-border environmental impact assessment, aircraft crash impact assessment, work and safety culture, and other issues.

Lithuania Ministry of Energy information