MOSCOW (AP) – Belarus’ first nuclear power plant started operation on Tuesday, a project that terrified neighboring Lithuania, immediately cut off electricity imported from Belarus upon the news.
The Russian Astravyets built the nuclear power plant, 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital of Lithuania Vilnius, was connected to the Belarusian grid and started generating electricity, according to the Belarusian electricity operator. Belenergo.
Lithuanian authorities have long opposed the construction of the plant, arguing that the project was plagued by accidents, stolen materials and mistreatment of workers. Under the country̵7;s law banning imports of electricity from Belarus after the plant started operating, Lithuania’s electricity operator Litgrid cut off power from Belarus when it received data that the Astravyets nuclear reactor had started production. energy.
Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Group, the plant’s builder, has denied Lithuania’s claims, saying the plant’s design adheres to the highest international standards as confirmed by the Energy Agency. Atomic International, a UN watchdog.
The Group also asserted that it “has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and an internal control system that ensures that any illegal or inappropriate behavior is prevented and prosecuted”. It is suggested that starting the project will help reduce the region’s carbon emissions by up to 10 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.
“We are working closely with the Belarusian National Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the World Association of Nuclear Operators and with the EU Group of European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Bodies to be completely certain. There are no risks or ‘threats to safety have not been overcome’, Rosatom said in a statement issued to the Associated Press.
Construction of the power plant was delayed when the shell of the reactor slipped to the ground in July 2016 after workers did not properly tie the wire during installation. Rosatom confirmed at the time that the reactor was not damaged, but agreed to replace the equipment at the request of the Belarusian authorities.
Belarus has been hit hard by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, the radiation catastrophe spewing out of a factory in Soviet-era Ukraine across vast areas of Europe. That traumatic legacy has spurred opposition to the nuclear plant project in Belarus.
Lithuania shut down the only nuclear power plant built by the Soviet Union in 2009 and banned the purchase of energy from Belarus.
In recent weeks, Lithuanian authorities have been distributing free iodine to people living near the Belarusian border. Iodine can help reduce the buildup of radiation in the thyroid gland in the event of a radioactive leak.