A European Commission delegation visited the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Ostrovets where they discussed security questions and stress tests of NPPs. The plant has sparked controversy in neighbouring Lithuania due its proximity to the EU member state.
Deputy head of Directorate General for Energy, Gerassimos Thomas, who led the European Commission delegation at the Belarusian NPP on September 19-20, said the Belarusian side expressed its willingness to follow the European methodology of the stress tests.
“The tests’ schedule will be approved by the national regulator,” Thomas said, adding that the tests cover only several aspects, which have been specifically focused on after the incident at Fukushima. “The tests do not assess the full range of issues related to the nuclear power plants, only resilience is being analysed,” he said, adding that these tests result in the possibility of a technical dialogue at the level of national regulators. Thomas stressed that each country may conduct a security assessment with the participation of its national regulator, which is responsible for the full range of aspects related to the security of the station.
The EU delegation discussed with the Belarus authorities opportunities of cooperation in the frame of Belarusian nuclear energy programme.
Thomas also said the EU is seeking to expand multilateral co-operation with Belarus. “We decided to resume our negotiations on the possibility of investment in joint projects through the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Now we are elaborating the development of new ways of interaction,” Thomas said.
Belarus is dependent on Russian gas imports for electricity production, and consumption remains heavily subsidised for households.
The head of the European Commission delegation at the Belarusian NPP noted that the EU’s co-operation with Belarus in the energy field is not limited to the subject of the Belarusian NPP.
“We are also looking to establish a dialogue in the field of renewable energy, efficiency improvement of the energy systems and legal regulation,” Thomas said. “We have confirmed our willingness to provide even greater technical support to GAN – Nuclear and Radiation Safety (Gosatomnadzor) to conduct stress tests on the Belarusian NPP if needed. Two European experts are currently providing support to the regulator here, in Belarus, and we are ready to increase the volume of this support,” he added.
All stakeholders have provided the European Union delegation with the necessary information, he said. “We have received a large amount of information from the Ministry of Energy, the regulatory body Gosatomnadzor and the design contractor of the project. Our dialogue was open, and we can see progress in all areas,” he said.
The head of the European Commission delegation at the Belarusian NPP said Belarus Deputy Minister of Energy Mikhail Mikhadyuk admitted readiness to continue this dialogue. The Belorussian national regulator has also expressed his readiness to continue the dialogue at the regulatory level.
Mikhadyuk said evaluation of his country’s project would be carried out in accordance with all existing regulations for stress tests’ implementation. “The results will be submitted to the Belarusian regulator (Gosatomnadzor) and the European Commission in the form of a national report,” he said.
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