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VATESI calls on the Belarusian Ministry of Emergency Situations to suspend the start-up and operation of the Belarusian NPP and to resolve nuclear safety issues

In the new letter addressed to the Belarusian Ministry of Emergency Situations (MES), which acts as the regulator of nuclear safety, the State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate (VATESI) calls to suspend the start-up and operation of the Belarusian NPP and to resolve nuclear safety issues.

"Most of the long-standing issues of ensuring nuclear safety have not been resolved so far," says VATESI Head Michail Demčenko.

From the start of the Belarusian NPP construction, Belarus has not provided specific information on how it has chosen the nuclear power plant construction site in Ostrovets and assessed the distribution and density of population in the neighboring Lithuania, this is a key Lithuanian nuclear safety question. Such an assessment had to be carried out in accordance with the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) safety standards and is very important for Lithuania's emergency preparedness, since as much as 1/3 of Lithuanian population might be affected in the case of accident and it would be very difficult for governmental authorities to manage such emergency situation in the capital region.

The letter also reminds that all safety recommendations, provided in 2018 following the ENSREG review of stress tests, are important and need to be implemented immediately. It is reiterated that the Belarusian NPP design does not meet modern international safety requirements. For example, the design of this nuclear power plant is not resistant to the effects of a large civil aircraft crash and not all procedures necessary for the safe operation of Unit 1 of the NPP in Belarus have been prepared before its commissioning.

Belarus has been repeatedly called upon to conduct a full scope probabilistic safety assessment, also to prepare in accordance with IAEA safety standards a final safety analysis report for the Belarusian NPP before the start of commercial operation of this plant, one of the most important documents supporting safe operation of the plant. According to the legislation currently in force in Belarus, such a document is planned to be prepared only a year after the start of commercial operation of the nuclear power plant.

VATESI also calls on the MES and other responsible Belarusian authorities to promptly provide detailed information to the public and other stakeholders on all unusual events, especially those that may cause public concern, and the potential impact of these events on the safety of the Belarusian NPP.

The letter reiterates the position that the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus must suspend the commissioning and operation of the Belarusian NPP until all nuclear safety issues raised by Lithuanian and international experts have been resolved.

Copies of this letter also sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Commission, the President of the forthcoming Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, the Chairs of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) and the Western European Nuclear Safety Regulators Association (WENRA).