Lithuania’s State Atomic Energy Safety Inspectorate (Vatesi) on 25 May signed a bilateral inter-institutional agreement with the Ministry of Emergencies of the Republic of Belarus (ESM) on early notification of a nuclear accident and exchange of information on nuclear facilities and activities.
Under the provisions of the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, such agreements between neighbouring countries are common international practice, Vatesi said.
Under this agreement, to protect the population of both countries by minimising possible radiological consequences, the authorities agreed to exchange relevant information without delay in the event of a nuclear accident or the recording of ionizing radiation dose levels by the country's radiological monitoring system. This agreement is also important in that the institutions, will exchange information on the nuclear and radiation safety of nuclear facilities in Belarus and Lithuania.
The agreement, which entered into force from the moment of signing, will allow Vatesi to promptly inform other responsible Lithuanian institutions upon receipt of information from ESM in case of a possible accident.
Vatesi said the arrival of fresh nuclear fuel at the Ostravets site of the Belarusian nuclear power plant and the continuation of the startup of unit 1 had already created a potential risk of a nuclear or radiological accident.
“Despite this signed agreement, all issues raised by Lithuania regarding the protection of the environment and nuclear safety during the development of the Belarusian nuclear power plant project at the Ostravets site remain. Lithuania seeks to ensure that the Belarusian nuclear power plant is not commissioned until all international environmental and nuclear safety requirements have been met.”
The Belarus nuclear power plant with two VVER-1200 reactors is being built by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom at Ostrovets in the Grodno region of Belarus. Unit 1 is scheduled to be commissioned in 2020, followed by unit 2 in 2021.