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Belarusian NPP Unit 2 commissioning continues without resolving safety issues


On 5 April 2023, the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus (MES) has issued a permit for power start-up of the Unit 2 of the Belarusian NPP. Unit 1 of this power plant has been in commercial operation since June 2021.

Since the beginning of the Belarusian NPP project implementation, Belarus has not provided specific information on how it selected the site for the construction of the nuclear power plant in Astravyets and assessed the distribution and density of neighbouring country Lithuania's population in the territory of the close to the nuclear power plant, which is a key nuclear safety issue for Lithuania. Such an assessment should have been carried out in accordance with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) safety standards, and is crucial for Lithuania's emergency preparedness, as about 1/3 of the Lithuanian population could be affected in the event of radiological emergency at the Belarusian NPP, and it would be extremely difficult for Lithuania's responsible authorities to manage the consequences of a potential accident under such conditions.

Up to now, not all stress test recommendations have been implemented at the Belarusian NPP, including additional recommendations related to enhancement of the accident management and the emergency ventilation system of the containment, and protection for buildings and structures against water ingress.

Safety issues related to the NPP equipment resistance to the seismic events and to the effects of a large civil aircraft crash, probabilistic safety assessment are still outstanding, and the licensing experience of other countries' nuclear safety regulators has not been evaluated and corresponding Belarusian NPP design safety improvements have not been implemented.

Lithuanian State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) is of the position that the operation and commissioning of Units 1 and 2 of the Belarusian NPP should be suspended until all nuclear safety issues have been resolved.