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UN asks Belarus to provide written answers on nuclear power plant near Lithuania

Astravo AE statybos Baltarusijoje
Vasilijaus Semaškos nuotr. / Construction site in Astraviets, Belarus
Šaltinis: BNS

The United Nation Implementation Committee (Espoo Convention) has asked Belarus to provide written answers to questions about the nuclear power plant project in close vicinity to Lithuania, Lithuania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced on Tuesday.

According to the ministry, at a meeting of the Implementation Committee in Geneva in March, the Belarusian delegation provided oral answers to questions of the committee's members but they were insufficient, and now Belarus has been asked to provide answers in writing.

Lithuania filed a complaint in June 2011 claiming that Belarus' actions regarding the construction of a nuclear power plant in Astraviets failed to meet the requirements of the Espoo Convention.

"Lithuanian institutions believe that Belarus' actions violate the Espoo Convention. Belarus has failed to provide answers to questions about the planned construction of the nuclear power plant, public hearings and bilateral consultations have not been organized, and, in the meantime, the project is being further developed," the ministry said in the statement.

The Implementation Committee is scheduled to present its initial findings and recommendations on the potential violation of the international law in September.

Belarus started preparatory work for building the nuclear power plant at the construction site in Astraviets, only 50 km away from the capital of Lithuania, in January 2009. However, Belarus invited Lithuania to participate in the environmental impact assessment process only in August 2009.

"The Espoo Convention sets out that the construction of the object that has a transboundary impact on other countries should begin only after the completion of the environmental impact assessment, after answering questions raised by impacted countries and after organizing public hearings," the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

According to the data of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not only Lithuania, but also the European Commission has objections to Belarus' actions, and informed Minsk in writing the environmental impact assessment procedures under the Espoo Convention had not been completed and it had questions Belarus still needed to answer.

The UN Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context is a key international document regulating an environmental impact assessment of projects having a transboundary impact, including the construction of nuclear power plants. Belarus joined the Espoo Convention in 2005.

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