Three decades after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in Ukraine, Belarus is building its first nuclear power station. Concerns about the project’s safety aren’t deterring the authorities. Speaking near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the 31st anniversary of the accident this April, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenka remarked that “both Belarusians and Ukrainians know that the Chernobyl catastrophe knows no borders”, in reference to the fact that 70% of the radioactive dust created in the 1986 chemical explosion descended on Belarus. Following the same logic, the authorities of neighbouring Lithuania are trying to raise the alarm about Belarus’s construction of its first nuclear power plant, which they believe to be the next nuclear disaster in waiting. One of the major complaints concerns the choice of location. Set near the small town of Astravets, less than 50km from Vilnius, the site also falls within an earthquake-prone area. Lithuanian authorities allege that Belarus did not conduct a cross-border environmental impact assessment, in breach of the Espoo Convention, and that in an event of a large-scale accident at the nuclear plant, the Lithuanian capital, as well as a third of the country’s population, could face catastrophic consequences.
Open Democracy 10th Aug 2017 read more »