21 November 2019, Thursday, 18:13
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Belarus can face ban on nuclear plant construction

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The Belarusian authorities are suspected of violation international obligations in the course of nuclear power plant planning.

The Implementation Committee of the Espoo Convention refer public organizations of Belarus’s neighbouring countries – Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland – for information necessary for carrying out an investigation of violations in the course of planning a nuclear power station construction. BelaPAN learnt this from Andrei Andrusevich, a legal expert and member of the council of the Ukrainian Resource and Analytical Center “Society and Environment”.

The Implementation Committee of the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (EIA Convention) said in September 2009 Belarus was in violation with its obligations of the Convention at the stage of planning the NPP construction. An appropriate request was sent to the Belarusian government asking to give a reply by December 31. The Committee stated it would refer the NGOs of Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine interested in the issue for the information needed.

“Ukraine started consultations with Belarus over the NPP construction in compliance with the Conventions obligations. In particular, Ecoclub NGO based in Rivne, is to file its remarks over environmental impact assessments of the Belarusian NPP to the Ministry of Environment of Ukraine and later send them to the Ministry of Environment of Belarus,” Andrusevich said.

According to the expert, this decision by the Committee means that suspicions of non-compliance by Belarus with the international obligations in the course of the nuclear plant planning have grounds. In his opinion, the matter is wrong and untimely providing information about the NPP planning to the neighbouring countries.

“If the Committee recognizes these and other violations, it wil be possible that Belarus will be made to stop the NPP construction. This process can take a long time, but the Committee may take such a decision by the end of the year,” Andrusevich emphasized.

Belarus signed the Espoo Convention on November 10, 2005.

The Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context is a UNECE convention signed in Espoo, Finland, in 1991 that entered into force in 1997. The Convention sets out the obligations of parties to carry out an environmental impact assessment of certain activities at an early stage of planning. It also lays down the general obligation of states to notify and consult each other on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries.