European stress tests for Belarus NPP

22 June 2016

The European Commission (EC) intends to press for nuclear safety stress tests to be conducted at the Ostrovets NPP under construction in Belarus, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were told on 6 June. Ostrovets will comprise two Russian 1,200MWe AES-2006 type pressurised water reactor units. The main construction contract for the plant was awarded to Russian nuclear vendor Atomstroyexport in October 2011.

In July 2012, a turnkey contract worth $10bn was finalised for Russia's state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, to supply the units. Russia is providing most of the finance through a soft loan. In December 2012, Belarus approved a draft intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the area of nuclear safety with Russia. First concrete was poured in 2013 for unit 1 for start up in 2018, and in 2014 for unit two for start up by 2020.

Although not a European Union (EU) member, Belarus participates in the EU's Eastern Partnership, which allows for discussions of trade and other issues. The EC has played an observer role in the construction of Ostrovets. However, The European Parliament has said a 2009 preliminary meeting of all sides, before construction of the plant began, "showed that internationally-agreed regulatory steps had not been satisfactorily incorporated into the national licensing process".

MEPs used a plenary debate to ask the EC whether the twin-unit plant complied with EU nuclear safety rules and how the EC plans to ensure the plant conducts stress tests to assess the safety and robustness of the plant. The commissioner in charge of humanitarian aid and crisis management, Christos Stylianides, told MEPs: "Our priority is now to ensure the timely implementation of Ostrovets nuclear safety stress tests in line with European specifications."

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