Lithuania has summoned Belarus' ambassador and handed him a diplomatic note over a reported incident in the construction site of Astravyets nuclear power plant.
Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant
© Reuters / Scanpix

"As soon as we received that information from unofficial sources, we took steps. Belarus' ambassador today was summoned to the minister and was handed a note demanding explanation regarding this possible incident or accident," Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told reporters on Thursday.

The Belsat.eu website has reported, citing a worker from a Pinsk-based organization involved in the plant's construction, that the structural frame of a nuclear service building to be erected between the plant's two reactors collapsed in mid-April.

The worker said that it was not the first incident on the site, but no one was held accountable for it.

"Such rumours or possibly facts show once again that we can't do without international institutions' involvement, because we can't rely solely on the word of the Belarusians," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on LRT Radio on Thursday morning.

The Lithuanian State Nuclear Power Safety Inspectorate said on Thursday it had no information about radiation hazard from Astravyets.

"There was a construction incident. So far, there have been no nuclear incidents related to the operations of the future nuclear plant. There is no danger of radiation. At worst, they had an incident with construction materials," the inspectorate's chief Michail Demčenko told LRT, adding that this raised concerns about safety standards in the construction site.

Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant developers have denied reports about the incidents, calling them rumours. The Belarusian Embassy in Vilnius says it has no information about any possible incident.

Lithuania is the most ardent critic of the nuclear power plant, which is being built just 50 kilometers from its capital Vilnius. Minsk rejects Lithuania's criticism, saying that it will ensure the highest safety standards at the facility.

According to Foreign Minister Linkevičius, Lithuania has not yet received any explanations from the Belarusian side.

"He [ambassador] promised to forward all information to the capital. There have been no explanations so far," he said, referring to his meeting with the ambassador, Aleksandr Korol.

Linkevičius has confirmed that Lithuania has no information as to what really happened on the Astravyets site.

"We don't know what happened. We only know what has been reported and we want explanations. (The report) said that concrete supports had collapsed, but we can neither confirm nor deny this," he said.

The foreign minister reiterated, during his meeting with the ambassador, Lithuania's demands that the Astravyets plant construction be assessed by international experts and that the so-called "stress tests" be carried out.

"We'll do everything to ensure that (Belarus) comply with all international standards. And if things don't go the way they should, we aren't going to buy electricity from that facility. We'll use commercial and technical means, and, certainly, we have to convince (other) countries in the region (not to buy)," Linkevičius said.

"This facility is important not only for Lithuania and its bilateral relations. It is important for the whole region and the European Union. We have been in constant contact with the European Commission on this issue. We not only inform them, but we also expect them to raise these issues at the highest level," he said.

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