Lithuania sees pink, EU nuke crew checks Rosatom-built Belarus plant

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European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group ENSREG has simply visited Belarus with a purpose to full a report that summarises the primary stage of peer evaluate of Belarus’s National Action Plan.

The controversial Ostrovets nuclear plant in Belarus, constructed by Russian state atomic power company Rosatom, formally started working final November regardless of sturdy opposition from neighboring Lithuania.

Rosatom Eastern Europe Director Vladimir Gorn hailed the work of the EU nuclear regulators’ coordination physique. He instructed New Europe on February 16 the peer evaluate of Belarus’s National Action Plan is progressing in a constructive approach. “We are continuing to work closely with the country’s national nuclear energy regulator and international watchdogs to ensure that all issues are addressed to the highest international safety standards,” he mentioned.

The Rosatom official famous that the plant’s commissioning continues as scheduled. “Subject to the completion of the final licensing process and receiving all regulatory permits unit 1 will enter commercial operation this coming spring and unit 2 will be launched next year,” Gorn mentioned. “By replacing power generation by highly polluting fossil fuels, the plant will prevent millions of tonnes of carbon emissions and save hundreds of lives each year,” he added.

During a plenary debate on the European Parliament on February 11, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson knowledgeable the plenary concerning the actions the Commission has been taking to make sure the protection of the Ostrovets plant.

“Today’s debate is very timely. Just yesterday, a team of nuclear safety experts from the Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, ENSREG, has concluded a visit on the site of the power plant. This visit is a key part of the ongoing peer review process,” Simson mentioned.

“The Commission, together with ENSREG, has worked swiftly to set up the peer review team and negotiate a schedule for conducting the review before the planned commercial start of the nuclear power plant, including a plant visit,” she added.

The first part of the peer evaluate, initially foreseen for December 2020, has begun on the finish of January. After the technical desk evaluate carried out remotely, on February 9 and February 10, a crew of seven ENSREG and Commission consultants carried out the primary part mission to confirm bodily the implementation of measures on the Ostrovets plant.

The crew consists of senior consultants from totally different Member States, Ukraine and the Commission. The crew has a powerful experience in the important thing areas for peer evaluate and is absolutely unbiased in making its conclusions on the satisfactory implementation of security suggestions by the Ostrovets NPP operator and Belarusian authorities.

The consultants will now full the preliminary report the Commissioner mentioned, including that this report will probably be then submitted to the plenary assembly of ENSREG in the beginning of March for endorsement, Simson mentioned. Once authorised, the report will probably be revealed. This course of is ready to ensure a reputable, unbiased and sturdy technical evaluate of the state of affairs.

“Therefore, at this point in time, pending the completion of ENSREG’s review procedures, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the ongoing independent work by the senior nuclear safety experts, and prejudge the findings in the report. I believe that all sides should refrain from commenting on the results of the mission at this stage. As I said, ENSREG will publish its preliminary report for full transparency,” Simson mentioned.

“Let me stress one thing. This preliminary report will be very important, but in any case, it will not be for us the end of our involvement and our commitment to the full safety of the plant,” she mentioned, including that ENSREG and the Commission will proceed to observe carefully the implementation of the remaining suggestions and as soon as pandemic situations enable, the complete peer evaluate crew might want to go to Belarus to evaluate the remaining suggestions. At that point, they may put together a closing report for endorsement by ENSREG and subsequent publication.

Following the controversy on February 11, MEPs voiced severe issues over the protection of the Ostrovets NPP and demanded that its industrial launch be suspended.

In a decision adopted with 642 votes to 29, with 21 abstentions, MEPs criticised the hasty commissioning of the Ostrovets nuclear plant and the continued lack of transparency and official communication concerning the frequent emergency shutdowns of the reactor and tools failure, the European Parliament mentioned in a press launch.

Despite excellent security issues, the plant began to generate electrical energy on 3 November 2020 with out absolutely implementing suggestions made within the 2018 EU peer evaluate and by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), MEPs argued, expressing their discontent with the frenzy to begin industrial operation of the plant in March 2021.

The MEPS known as on the Commission to work carefully with the Belarusian authorities to delay launching the plant till all EU stress take a look at suggestions are absolutely carried out and all the required security enhancements are in place, the EU Parliament mentioned.

MEPs additionally urged Belarus to totally adjust to worldwide nuclear and environmental security requirements, and to cooperate with worldwide authorities in a clear method.

Rosatom’s Ostrovets nuclear energy plant is positioned 50 kilometres from Lithuanian capital Vilnius and in shut proximity to different EU member states Poland, Latvia and Estonia.

Electricity stopped being traded between Belarus and the EU on November Three when the Ostrovets plant was linked to the electrical energy grid. This adopted the August 2020 joint choice of the Baltic States to stop industrial exchanges of electrical energy with Belarus as soon as the Ostrovets plant began working. However, MEPs famous that electrical energy from Belarus can nonetheless enter the EU market through the Russian grid, the EU Parliament mentioned.

The Rosatom official hit again at critics who’ve attacked the commissioning of the Belarus plant as unsafe. “It is regrettable to see that some politicians in Europe have become hostages of antinuclear bigotry and have adopted stereotypes in their discourse. It speaks volumes that a European Parliament resolution, which yet again baselessly branded the plant as ‘unsafe’, was passed before the relevant EU nuclear safety body had completed its on site evaluation or voiced any conclusions,” Gorn instructed New Europe and argued, “The verdict appears to have been read and sealed even before the jury was given a chance to convene and deliberate on the matter at hand”.