Lithuania's government on Thursday handed a note to the Belarusian Embassy over the latest incident at the Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant under construction in Belarus close to the Lithuanian border. Vilnius has also asked Brussels for involvement of the European Union (EU) in the matter.

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Photo © Ludo Segers
Photo © Ludo Segers

Belarus' chargé d'affaires Lyudmila Tatarinovich was summoned to the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The Belarusian diplomat was presented with a note, which called for conducting a thorough investigation of the incident without delay and informing Lithuania, other neighbouring countries and the International Atomic Safety Agency, IAEA, about the results," the Lithuanian ministry said.

The actions were taken two days after Belarus' Energy Ministry admitted that an "extreme situation" had occurred during the moving of a body of a reactor at the Astravyets utility.

Belarusian officials have not yet provided further comments on the media reports about the 300+ ton device falling to the ground from an altitude of several metres.

Lithuania has suggested that Belarus should set up an international team of experts to provide recommendations. Belarus has also been urged to include independent international experts for assessment of suitability of the Astravyets construction site, construction work and quality.

Lithuania's foreign, energy and environment ministers have sent a letter to the European Commission's Vice-President Maros Sovic and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, notifying them of the incident and asking for the EU's active involvement in the settlement of the nuclear safety matter, the ministry said in a press release.

It is a latest reported incident in a series of alleged accidents at the Belarusian utility. Belarus' Energy Ministry has confirmed another incident, a "damage of supporting structures", in April. Minsk then dismissed the defect as insignificant.

Lithuania has been criticizing Belarus for violating safety standards during the construction of the nuclear utility, while Minsk has rejected the criticism as ungrounded.

The utility is being built some 50 km from Lithuania's capital Vilnius by the Russian company Rosatom, with the first reactor to be launched in late 2018.

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