23 January 2018, Tuesday, 19:17

Where is evacuation plan for Vilnius and Minsk?

People living within 300 km of the Belarusian nuclear plant must be relocated in case of an accident.

Belarusian officials said August 17 at a meeting in Astravets with journalists and Visaginas residents that an evacuation plan for Vilnius was not needed.

They declined to give details and said the Astravets nuclear power plant would be so safe that it would not affect the 30-kilometre zone. Instead of giving arguments they recommended the Lithuanians to read the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the Belarusian NPP project wondering that the Lithuanian authorities have not informed them about the absolute safety of the Atravets NPP.

However, slogans about the absolute safety and security of the nuclear plant in Astravets do not comply with the official EIA report of the Belarusian NPP and the latests researches of the impact zones of the Astravets NPP carried out by Norwegian and Austrian institutions.

The Belarusian side has not given Lithuania the full 3.500-page EIA report of the Belarusian NPP. The document contains information about the impact on the Lithuanian territory. Part 3.4 of volume 11 of the EIA report “Design basis and beyond design basis accidents. Radioactive waste. Transboundary impact” contains the calculation data showing that a contamination of 2900-1600 kBq/m² of Caesium-137 is possible on the territory from 10 to 15 km of the reactor in cases of a beyond design basis accident. According to the EIA report, a contamination of 230 kBq/m² of Cs-137 is possible within 30 km of the reactor.

According to Belarus's National Report 2006, people may be relocated from territory with the density of

cesium-137 contamination higher than 185 kBq/m². Relocation is obligatory on the territory with the contamination density of 1450 kBq/m². So, official Belarusian sources confirm the fact that people living within 30 km of the emergency reactor will have to be relocated in case of a beyond design basis accident at the Astravets NPP.

The necessity of relocation of people due to accidental releases at the Astravets NPP is confirmed by the results of the recent researches by European specialists published in 2012. FlexRISK, the research by the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), shows that in case of a serious beyond design basis accident there is a danger of such a release of Cs-137 that people will have to be relocated from the territory within 300 and more km of the emergency reactor. According to flexRISK, the potential zone of relocataion includes Vilnius, Kaunas and Šiauliai.

It's worth noting that the 300-km zone includes not only Vilnius but also Minsk and other Belarusian towns. Minsk is situated downwind from the Astravets NPP, so the risk of contamination of Minsk is higher in case of a beyond design basis accident.

So why are there no evacuation plans for Vilnius and Minsk?

Tatsiana Novikava, exclusively for charter97.org