Six European Union countries, including Estonia, have sent a joint statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency calling on Belarus to start addressing nuclear safety issues at Astravyets nuclear power plant.
On Tuesday, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland sent a joint statement to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and contracting parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS).
The statement calls on Belarus to start addressing nuclear safety issues without delay, to cooperate with the CNS contracting parties in a transparent manner, to provide all relevant information and to answer the issues raised, as well as to voluntarily engage in the assessment of its progress.
The countries urge Belarus to implement all safety recommendations that were outlined in the EU Peer Review Report of the Belarus NPP 'stress tests' after the peer review exercise in Belarus in 2018. In addition, the countries call for addressing in a timely manner all nuclear safety and environmental issues raised by experts from the EU and international community.
The statement was issued after the contracting parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety agreed to postpone the 8th Review Meeting to March 2021 due to the current COVID-19 epidemiological situation worldwide.
The CNS contracting parties commit themselves to ensuring internationally recognized high levels of nuclear safety. Review Meetings are held every three years and provide the opportunity to review the National Reports of all contracting parties.
In 2019, the CNS contracting parties submitted 239 questions regarding Belarus' eighth national report, showing the international community's deep concern over the nuclear safety situation in Belarus.
Last month, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania agreed not to purchase electricity from the plant, which is 60 km from Vilnius.
The statement is published below and on the website of the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Lithuania to the International Organizations in Vienna:
Referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safety standards and fundamental safety principles,
Recognizing the importance of maintaining and strengthening nuclear safety worldwide,
Taking into consideration the legitimate nuclear safety concerns in particular of neighboring countries,
Taking into account that the 8th Review Meeting of Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) had to be postponed till March 2021,
Taking into account that during the review of the 8th National Report of the Republic of Belarus in total 239 questions and 8 potential challenges were proposed to the Republic of Belarus by the Contracting Parties of the CNS,
Also taking into account that Belarus finished loading nuclear fuel to the Belarusian NPP already on 20 August 2020,
Recognizing that it might be too late to discuss the aforementioned safety issues and the status of their resolution during the 8th Review Meeting in March 2021, since the Belarusian NPP might be already in operation without resolution of numerous nuclear safety issues, and that unanswered questions and shortcomings that have not been eliminated before commissioning could turn into an additional unjustified and unacceptable risk for population and environment in the very centre of Europe,
Also, having regard to the limited progress from Belarus implementing the important safety recommendations provided in the EU peer review report of the Belarus NPP 'stress tests' of July 2018,
We urge Belarus:
- to start solving all nuclear safety issues raised in the questions posted by CNS contracting parties without any delay;
- to transparently cooperate with the Contracting Parties of the CNS in providing all relevant information and answers to the issues raised;
- to voluntarily engage into a fair assessment process of the progress made;
- to actively engage into the implementation of all safety recommendations provided in the EU peer review report of the Belarus NPP 'stress tests';
- to solve in due time the remaining nuclear safety and environmental issues, raised by the highly qualified experts of the EU and all international community.
The following countries align themselves with this statement: Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland.
Editor: Helen Wright