Russia's AEM-Technology has begun shipping a set of four PGV-1000 steam generators to unit 2 of the Belarus NPP under construction in Ostrovets, Belarus. AEM-Technology is part of Atomenergomash, a subsidiary of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom.
Two 1109MWe Russian VVER-1200 reactor units are under construction close to the border with Lithuania. Construction of Unit 1 began in November 2013 and unit 2 in April 2014. The operation of unit 1 is scheduled for November 2018 and unit 2 in July 2020.
AEM-Technology said in a statement on 14 July that the steam generators were transported over four nights by road before being transferred to a barge on the Tsimlyansk reservoir. The equipment will be sent by water to Veliky Novgorod where it will be loaded onto a railway conveyor for transport to Belarus.
Each 340 tonne PGV-1000 steam generator has an operating life of 40 years. AEM-Technology announced in late May that it had completed assembly of the reactor vessel for Belarus 2. All four steam generators were installed at Belarus 1 in April.
Meanwhile, the Belarus NPP continued to be a contentious issue at the 7th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention in Minsk from 13 to 16 June, attended by some 200 representatives from its 45 member states, with Lithuania raising objections to the plant. The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, adopted in February 1991 in Espoo, Finland, entered into force in September 1997. It sets out the obligations to assess the environmental impact of certain activities at an early stage of planning and also obliges parties to notify and consult each other on all the key projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries.
On 15 June, while the Espoo meeting was still underway, the Lithuanian parliament (Seimas) adopted a bill declaring the Belarusian NPP to be unsafe and a threat to Lithuania’s national security, environment and public health. Earlier this year, Lithuania adopted a law prohibiting imports of electricity generated at nuclear power facilities that are deemed unsafe.
Belarus deputy prime minister Vladimir Semashka told the Espoo meeting that Lithuania's criticism of the NPP was politically motivated and stressed that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts had made no complaints about the project. In January, a Site and External Events Design (SEED) Review of the NPP was conducted by the IAEA “to review the relevant NPP design parameters against site-specific hazards to determine whether all necessary safety aspects were adequately considered, as outlined in IAEA safety standards”. The Review Team concluded that screening of external hazards was performed using sound and well-documented criteria; site specific parameters were enveloped by the NPP design parameters; hazard monitoring programmes were adequate and properly documented, and appropriate measures had been taken to address challenges related to external events in light of lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The IAEA report was submitted at the end of April to the Belarus government, which published it on 7 June. Belarus submitted it to the European Commission on 14 June.
In the event, the Espoo meeting decided to postpone any decision on the Belarusian-Lithuanian dispute until the next session that will take place in late 2018 or early 2019 in Geneva. Espoo said: “A consolidated decision has been made in favour of continuing discussing so-called country-specific matters. All the matters revolving around specific disputes between countries … have been postponed till the additional session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Espoo Convention That session will review the matters we've been discussing for so long during this session.”