Lithuania plans to block imports from “unsafe” Belarusian nuclear power plan

By bne IntelliNews September 5, 2017

The Lithuanian energy ministry has drafted a plan to curb transmission and import of power from a Belarusian nuclear power plant currently being built in Astravets, 50 kilometres from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, the ministry said on September 4. 

The ministry’s plan is yet another step in Vilnius’ drive to torpedo the Astravets project. The Lithuanian parliament passed a bill in mid-June declaring that the power plant is a threat to national security. The law requires that the government to adopt a plan on measures to safeguard the country within three months.

Lithuania is opposed to the plant, claiming it does not meet safety requirements and could threaten the capital’s 540,000 strong population in case of a failure. Lithuania alleges that Belarus is not adhering to the regulations of the Espoo Convention, which guides states’ environmental assessment for projects that could have a transboundary impact.

Part of the Lithuanian plan is to tax power imported from Belarus and Russia, through which Minsk may try to route electricity from Astravets to sell in the Baltic states, the ministry said in a statement. Lithuania wants both its neighbours Latvia and Estonia and the European Commission to support the measures.

"It is vital for Lithuania to protect itself against the a national security threat from Astravets NPP. The construction of a plan for protection against unsafe nuclear power activities in Belarus is primarily focused on measures at the regional level, but it is clear what we must do at the national level in protecting our state and the interests of its people," said Energy Minister Žygimantas Vaičiūnas.

Poland, which borders on Lithuania and Belarus, said in March it would not import electricity from the controversial plant.

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