The position of International Centre for civil initiatives “Our House” and other democratic forces of Belarus on the Ostrovets NPP construction

We as “Our House” and other representatives of political parties, movements and NGOs in Belarus, who gathered in Visaginas (Lithuania) on June 6 and 7, 2019, have discussed the current situation with the construction and the commissioning of the Ostrovets NPP which is planned for 2020, and took into account the planned issuance of a license for the operation of the first power plant unit of the Ostrovets NPP in the second half of 2019, as well as problems below:

in the field of safety:

– the current lack of acceptable and safe solutions for spent fuel management (SNF) of the Ostrovets NPP, discussed with the public in accordance with the legislation and international obligations of Belarus;  the absence in the project of the Ostrovets NPP of a substation site for dry storage of spent nuclear fuel; lack of an agreement between Belarus and Russia on reprocessing spent nuclear fuel at the Ostrovets NPP; the lack of a plant designed for  reprocessing SNF of the reactors of the Ostrovets NPP in the Russian Federation even at the project stage;

– a number of significant safety problems identified as a result of the European peer review and public examination of the stress tests of the Ostrovets NPP, including the lack of proof of the seismic stability of equipment affecting the safety, functionality of passive and active safety systems of the NPP-2006 project, as well as the safety of insufficiently tested nuclear reactor installation; Russian NPP-2006 project is not state-of-the-art and it doesn’t comply with recommendations of the IAEA and WENRA for new NPP;

– a number of incidents during the construction of the Ostrovets NPP, including the incidents with the reactor vessel of the first power unit, which reduce the reliability of the equipment and create additional risks;

in the field of economics:

– lack of public and relevant data on the economic feasibility of the Ostrovets NPP;

– lack of demand for additional power generation, as well as the absence of large industrial energy consumers of the Ostrovets NPP;

– lack of sufficient reserve capacity of the Ostrovets NPP today, as well as the irrationality of their construction;

– the negative impact of the Ostrovets NPP on the development of sustainable energy and energy saving;

– a significant contribution to increasing the external debt of Belarus;

 in the field of ecology and cultural heritage:

– the negative impact of the Ostrovets NPP on the microclimate, as well as on the preservation of cultural heritage objects (for example, the Gervyatsky church) due to the use of wet cooling towers;

– the negative impact of the Ostrovets NPP on specially protected nearby natural areas  due to an increase in anthropogenic pressure;

– the negative impact of the Ostrovets NPP on the Red Book representatives of the fauna, including salmon, which are threatened with extinction as a result of rising temperatures in the Viliya River;

– irrational and unsustainable use of water resources of the Viliya river, which is typical for nuclear energy as a whole and creates additional risks in the context of global climate change;

– Planned regular emissions of radionuclides of the Ostrovets NPP built by Russian NPP-2006 project, and which increase the radiation risks for nature and people already affected by the Chernobyl accident;

in the field of human rights, national security and international relations:

– Strengthening the multifactorial (technological, energy, economic) dependence of Belarus on the Russian Federation;

– The explicit role of the Ostrovets NPP in the so-called “in-depth integration” with Russia;

– Ostrovets NPP is a source of transboundary impact and disputes arising from it with neighboring countries (for example, Lithuania): during the construction, the UNECE Espoo Convention had been violated, new violations on site selection were noted by an extraordinary Meeting of the Parties to the Convention in 2019;

– during the construction of the Ostrovets NPP, the rights of citizens of Belarus were violated, which was noted by the bodies of the UN Aarhus Convention, in particular, by the Meetings of the Parties to the Convention in 2014 and 2017,

We believe that the commissioning of the Ostrovets NPP poses unacceptable risks for the people and nature of Belarus, the affected countries, as well as for the economic and financial stability of Belarus; threatens national independence, sovereignty of the country; It is being prepared in irresponsible way;

we call upon decision-making bodies and organizations, citizens of Belarus with an appeal

– postpone the physical start-up of the Ostrovets NPP until all the problems mentioned above are resolved!

– develop and discuss with the public a strategy for sustainable nuclear-free development of Belarus as a zero alternative, prescribed by the law;

There is not much time left ( less than a year) before the physical start-up of the Ostrovets NPP! If the construction is stopped before launch, this will help to avoid the high costs of handling hazardous spent nuclear fuel for thousands of years and environmental risks unacceptable to Belarus. This will give Belarus a chance to maintain sovereignty in the face of increasing pressure, including energy, from the neighboring country. A Russian nuclear power plant in Belarus is a hybrid warfare tool, it can be used in any local conflict involving Russia.  Chernobyl has already showed the destructive power of this tool!

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