The first ever nuclear power plant in the East European country Belarus is set for production in January next year. The Belarusian NPP draws international interest since it is the first nuclear power plant to be commissioned in Europe in recent years, according to official press realease.
The Belarusian side has demonstrated openness and transparency, continuously engaging with the public and independent international experts at all stages of its implementation.
That was the observation made by the participants of the round table conference titled “Public control in nuclear energy: the case of the Belarusian NPP ‘Zero background’ measurement and international expertise of materials”, which was held on October 8 in Minsk during the 24th Belarusian Energy and Ecology Forum. The conference was attended by the representatives from various national and international environmental organizations as well as from the Belarus Ministry of Energy and Belarusian NPP.
Belarusian NPP is systematically been working with the public and bringing international experts for data collection and environmental assessments. This August, representatives of the International Environmental Public NGO Green Cross, Environmental Safety Agency Alpha-X91, scientific and educational organization “Energy and Ecology”, and other public and specialized organizations measured “Zero Background” based on laboratory research of samples of air, water, soil, bottom sediments and vegetation in the territory adjacent to the Belarusian NPP construction site in Ostrovets region.
In September, nuclear industry experts from eight countries (Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia) conducted an expert review of documents substantiating the environmental safety of the Belarusian NPP.
“The results of the international expedition tasked with measurement of “Zero Background” and international expertise of environmental safety documents will provide the basis for post-project analysis of Belaruian NPP under the Espoo Convention,” said Lilia Dulinets, Deputy Director of the Nuclear Energy Department of the Belarus Ministry of Energy.
Experts noted that the submitted documents provide an exhaustive review of planned measures to ensure nuclear, radiation and environmental safety, which fully complies with the standards and rules established by the law of Belarus and IAEA recommendations.
“This is an important indicator of the project quality in general and commitment to comply with international and IAEA principles in safe operation of nuclear facilities demonstrated by the Belarusian side. I suggest that international specialists and independent experts should be invited during the future operation of the Belarusian NPP to monitor the radio-ecological situation in the observation zone”, said Yanko Yanev from Vienna International Nuclear Competence Center.
Experts also discussed issues of implementing international experience in environmental projects, including in the field of environmental education, establishing a dialogue with public organizations and the population.
“Public expertise is an effective tool in assessing the quality of documents substantiating the Belarusian NPP safety, in drawing conclusions on the environmental impact of the planned activities as well as related socio-economic and other impacts of the project implementation. In addition, this is a good opportunity to build an atmosphere of openness among the public and nuclear industry specialists”, said Professor Sergey Baranovsky, President of the Russian Green Cross and Chairman of Russian Ecological Congress. The Belarusian NPP is one of the reference projects of Rooppur NPP in Bangladesh. Russian company Atomstroyexport, engineering division of Rosatom State Corporation is implementing the project on Turnkey basis. As in Rooppur NPP the Belarus project will host two units with generation III+ VVER reactors, which fully complies with all modern requirements, international standards and IAEA recommendations.