European Parliament demands suspension of Belarus NPP

18 February 2021

The European Parliament (EP) on 11 February adopted a resolution demanding suspension of the launch of the Belarus NPP in Ostrovets citing concerns about its safety. The resolution, initiated by Lithuania on Thursday was supported by 642 deputies with 29 voting against, and 21 abstaining. Resolutions of the European Parliament are advisory in nature.

European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, speaking at the debate said EU experts have completed a visit to plant to conduct stress tests and are preparing a report on their results for early March. A group of European regulators began conducting stress tests at the plant in cooperation with Minsk in 2018.

Lithuania and Poland are pressing to stop imports of electricity from the Belarus plant. On their initiative, the EU summit in December decided that EU states will block the import of electricity from nuclear power plants outside the community, if their safety does not meet EU requirements.

The resolution “urges the Belarusian authorities to fully cooperate with the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) in the stress test process, including a formal review and urgent implementation of the Belarus’ National Action Plan”. The resolution “deeply regrets the hasty commercial start of the plant in March 2021 and stresses that all ENSREG safety recommendations must be implemented before the nuclear power plant can start its commercial operation”.

It notes that, “despite the common agreement between the Baltic countries to cease commercial exchanges of electricity with Belarus, is it still possible for electricity from Belarus to enter the EU market via the Russian grid” and “supports the efforts to investigate possible measures preventing commercial electricity imports from third countries’ nuclear facilities that do not fulfil EU recognised safety levels, including the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets”.

It “invites the Commission to assess and propose measures to suspend electricity trade with Belarus in a manner that is compliant with the obligations under international trade, energy and nuclear law, in order to ensure that electricity produced in the Ostrovets plant does not enter the EU energy market while Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are still connected to the BRELL network”. It “stresses the strategic importance of accelerating the synchronisation of the Baltic electricity grid with the Continental European Network”. 

BelNPP will consist of two Russian supplied VVER-1200 power units. The general contractor is Atomstroyexport (part of Rosatom). The plant was issued a permit for pilot industrial operation of unit 1 in December. It is expected that the unit 1 will be put into commercial operation in 2021 and unit 2 in 2022.

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