VILNIUS, August 20 (RIA Novosti) – Lithuania advised Belarus on Tuesday not to build a planned nuclear power plant near the two countries’ border, citing a negative assessment by an international environmental agency.
Lithuania has repeatedly voiced concern about the Ostrovets nuclear power plant, set to be built about 50 kilometers from Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius.
In 2011, Lithuania lodged a complaint with the Implementation Committee of the UN Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention), which Belarus joined in 2005.
The Ostrovets power plant is to be built by Russia’s Rosatom corporation under a contract signed in July 2012 and is due to be completed in July 2020.
Because the Espoo implementation committee gave a negative assessment of the project, in accordance with the convention, “construction of this plant is not allowed to begin,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said in an interview with LRT radio.
The Espoo Convention stipulates that construction of a facility that has a transboundary impact on other countries may only begin after the completion of an environmental impact assessment and after all questions from the concerned countries have been answered.
According to some media reports, Belarus has already started the construction work.
Butkevicius stressed that Belarus must “meticulously observe the Espoo requirements” and urged the country to refrain from unilateral action because Minsk has yet to answer all the questions that have been put to it.
On Tuesday, Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh told RIA Novosti that Lithuania had received exhaustive answers to all questions concerning the power plant project a long time ago.
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