The new nuclear power plant in Belarus may be launched one year later than originally planned, in 2019. The Russian company Rosatom, which is building the facility in Astravyets, says that the launch of the first reactor may be pushed back because its body needs to be replaced.

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Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant

The 300-tonne reactor body fell down about 4 metres during testing last month. The event was not officially reported initially, but following reports in the media, the Lithuanian government presented a note to Minsk, demanding for explanations, and asked the European Commission to get involved.

The Labour Party group in the Lithuanian parliament recently summoned the ministers of energy and foreign affairs, insisting that the cabinet should be more active in pressing Belarus to be more forthcoming with details about the nuclear facility located just 50 kilometres from Vilnius.

Among Lithuanian demands for Belarus is an international expert group to monitor the construction so that information about incidents did not reach neighbouring countries in the form of rumours.

The Lithuanian ministers say that the country's members of the European Parliament could also put in more effort to put the issue of Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant on the European agenda.

"Everyone could put in some effort, the political parties and MEPs. The European Parliament is a tribune where we could raise the issue on the international level," according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius.

Meanwhile MEP Valentinas Mazuronis, of the Labour Party, says that the Lithuanian government should turn to the European Commission with a proposal to form an expert group to monitor the construction, with representatives from Belarus, the EC and Lithuania. "This way, we would not have the situation that we have now," Mazuronis says.

Lithuanian Energy Minister Rokas Masiulis says that Belarusians have decided to replace the reactor body that fell down in July. The decision may have been due to the public exposure of the incident, he believes.

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