Ukrainian environmentalists complain about Belarusian nuclear plans to Geneva
Belarus has decided to build two nuclear reactors without consulting neighbouring countries – Ukraine and Lithuania. For this reason a Ukrainian environmental organization – Ecoclub in Rivne – has submitted a complaint, alleging non-compliance by Belarus with the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo, 1991). The complaint points to a number of infringements by Belarus and stresses the need to hold consultations with the public of countries which the nuclear power plants could have impact upon.
Andriy Martyniuk from Ecoclub says that while the Belarusian decision could encourage energy efficiency, Belarus has never had nuclear power plants before and is now planning to build these by 2016.
The area set aside fro the plants is about 20 kilometres from the Lithuanian border and 200 kilometres from Ukraine. Mr Martyniuk notes that the plans have had a positive impact on Ukrainian nuclear workers staff with their pay being increased to prevent them going to work in Belarus. He explains that there is a world shortage of qualified nuclear power plant workers.
Ecoclub believes that Belarus’ neighbours will be scrupulously following construction work and hopes that this will ensure greater safety during construction and exploitation of the plant.
Mr Martyniuk points out that in Ukraine nuclear power plants do not meet the safety demands set in the European Union.
The Head of the environmental and humanitarian organization “Zeleny svit” [“Green World”) Oleksandr Stepanenko says that there is no more danger for Ukrainians from the Belarusian nuclear power plants than from construction of a plant in Ukraine, however the procedure for ensuring information and public participation should have been observed.
The Rivne environmentalists are aware that one complaint will not achieve much, but believe it is important to draw attention to the issue. The complaint will be considered by the Espoo Compliance Committee in July. Andriy Martyniuk believes that this is the first time that Ukrainian environmentalists have complained about the activities of another country.
From a report by Olha Vesnyanka at http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,4347603,00.html