L. Linkevičius: the EU stress tests proved that the Ostrovets NPP is not safe
„The critical recommendations provided in the EU Stress Test Peer Review Report must be implemented before the Ostrovets NPP is launched. The implementation of the recommendations should be conditional for further EU-Belarus cooperation. We expect that the European Commission will remain involved in the process and will keep control of it,” emphasized Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, commenting on the presentation of the Peer Review Report of the Ostrovets NPP Stress Test that took place in Brussels on 3 July.
The Stress Tests accomplished in line with the EU methodology confirmed that the Ostrovets NPP is not safe: the Peer Review Report identified serious project deficiencies and provided important recommendations, in particular, in the field of seismic safety assessment, improvement of safety functions and management of severe accidents.
“Implementation of the Stress Test recommendations before the launch of the Ostrovets NPP, as well as Belarus’ steps in the fields of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, will affect further development of EU – Belarus relations,” L. Linkevičius emphasized.
The minister also noted that the Stress Tests is an important exercise that allows assessing the level of nuclear safety in the light of the lessons learned after the Fukushima accident. However, it is not a final and comprehensive safety assessment that would answer all the questions raised by Lithuania.
"The task of the Stress Tests is to assess the risks arising from external factors (e.g. extreme natural phenomena, human-induced events) and the resistance of NPPs to them. Stress tests do not address the questions concerning site research and selection, site suitability for NPP construction, transboundary environmental impact, assessment of impact of a heavy aircraft crash, work and safety culture and other issues that Lithuania has been raising since the start of the development of the Ostrovets NPP," stressed L. Linkevičius.
The Stress Tests is a multi-stage process that does not end with the approval of the Peer Review Report. The European Commission and the countries involved in the Stress Test process must continue the cooperation with Belarus in the field of nuclear safety based on the Belarus national action plan that should include specific measures designated for the implementation of the recommendations.
The Stress Tests were developed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) in 2011 in order to assess the level of safety of EU nuclear power plants and identify the safety deficiencies in the light of the experience and lessons learned from the accident at the Fukushima NPP. As nuclear accidents and their consequences are not limited to national borders, EU neighboring countries were also encouraged to conduct stress tests at their NPPs. Belarus committed to conduct stress tests at the Ostrovets NPP in 2011.
On 2 July, the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group approved the Peer Review Report of the Risk and Safety Assessment (Stress Tests) of the Ostrovets NPP. On July 3, the results of Stress Test Peer Review were presented to the public at an event in Brussels.
“It is regrettable that Belarus seeks to legitimise the project of the Ostrovets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) through the means of public relations rather than strengthening the nuclear safety. It goes without saying that the stress tests report must comply with the methodology of the European Union. However, this is just a form matching. We need to talk about the content, the assessment provided for in the report, as well as the recommendations, which will have to be implemented,” said the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius commenting the information distributed by the Interfax news agency that the stress tests of the Ostrovets NPP meet the European safety requirements.