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Belarus And Lithuania Talk BelNPP Construction: 10 Incidents, 3 Deaths, Replacement Of Reactor Vessel

There were 10 incidents during the construction of Belarusian NPP, Deputy Energy Minister of Belarus Mikhail Mikhadyuk said on Wednesday in Minsk following the second round of Belarussian-Lithuanian talks over the NPP construction.

“They write about 10 deaths, but there were 10 incidents”,  the official said.

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According to Mikhadyuk, given the scale of construction with over 5,000 employees and hundreds of objects involved, this is a reasonable figure. He also noted that there’s an incident warning system at the construction site.

In all the years of the NPP construction there were three deaths among the workers. The Deputy Minister noted that the discussion touched upon the recent incidents as well.

“At present the notification procedure is still an unresolved issue. The object is non-nuclear, so the procedure of notification does not operate yet”, the official noted.

He said that the Belarusian side put forward a proposal to set up a commission and decide on the types of incidents that Lithuania would be notified about.

The Lithuanian authorities demand that the construction of Belarusian NPP located in Ostrovets is freezed until the stress tests are conducted and the experts’ conclusions are drawn, director of Pollution Control Department at the Environment Ministry of Lithuania, Vitalijus Auglys said.

Belarus stated that it wouldn’t suspend construction of the nuclear power plant. Mikhail Mikhadyuk announced that Minsk had concluded a contract with the Russian company to conduct stress tests at the NPP under construction in Ostrovets. Following the stress tests, which will be conducted in December, a report is to be made and submitted to the European Commission.

Belarus planned to set the first unit of the NPP into operation in 2018, and the second one in 2020. However, it is still unknown, how these terms will shift following the July’s incident when the reactor was dropped from 2-4 metres height and a subsequent decision to replace the reactor vessel.

Belarusian and Lithuanian experts met in Minsk on 13-14 September for bilateral consultations to discuss technical and scientific aspects of the Belarusian nuclear power plant construction project. The matters discussed included the design of the nuclear power plant, nuclear safety, radiation protection oversight, including the development of the relevant laws in Belarus, and the organization of environmental monitoring measures.

The Belarusian side was represented by the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, the Energy Ministry, the Healthcare Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry, and a number of other central government agencies.

The bilateral consultations are to resume in late October.