Public survey of Belarus NPP environmental impact reviewed in Minsk
Results of the radiation survey in the area around the construction site of the Belarusian nuclear power plant (NPP) were presented at the roundtable organized by the Belarusian Ecological Initiative non-governmental association in Minsk on 13 December, BelTA learned.
The meeting summed up the results of the project "Public monitoring of the environmental impact of the Belarusian nuclear power plant” carried out in 2013 on the initiative of a number of Belarusian environmental organizations.
Within the framework of the project volunteers from the environmental non-governmental organizations and experts of the national center of radiation control and monitoring of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Belarus did measurements of gamma radiation and collected samples of soil, water and air for caesium-137 and strontium-90 around the NPP construction site and nearby villages of Goza and Trokeniki. In addition, they did laboratory radionuclide analysis of the samples of surface water taken from the Vilia River, the main water artery flowing near the nuclear plant construction site.
"The results have shown that the radiation situation in the region around the construction site of the Belarusian nuclear power plant is stable. The levels of radioactive contamination of the natural environment are extremely low," said the head of the Ecological Initiative association Yuri Solovyov. The level of contamination of soil and surface water corresponds to the levels prior to the Chernobyl accident. The volumetric activity of caesium-137 in all samples of air and groundwater was below the minimum detectable activity of the laboratory analytical instruments used in the research.
Yuri Solovyov also noted that the results of the survey were as expected. "The construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets has been professional and efficient. This is a modern and innovative project developed by recognized experts of the nuclear industry - the St. Petersburg-based institute Atomenergoproject. Therefore, the probability that a nuclear power plant will have a negative impact on the environment at the stage of construction is extremely low,” he said.
The main objective of the project is to create an information databank for the regular independent monitoring of the impact of the Belarusian nuclear power plant on the environment at all stages of its life cycle: construction, operation and decommissioning. "If there are any major deviations from the indicators we received during this survey, we will immediately inform the authorities and the public so that they could take measures to prevent negative effects for human health and the environment, said Yuri Solovyov.
This year the public monitoring project grew international. It was joined by Lithuanian and Russian environmentalists. Negotiations are in progress with Latvian, Finnish and French environmental non-governmental organizations. Next year's plans are to involve Lithuanian specialists in the field and laboratory studies to evaluate the radiation situation around the construction site of the NPP in Belarus.
“Implementation of such projects as the environmental monitoring shows that Belarus has formed a system of public monitoring in nuclear energy,” said Yuri Solovyov.
Independent control over Belarusian nuclear station’s construction, operation
An effective system has been created in Belarus to allow independent public control over all the stages involved in the construction, operation, and decommissioning of the nuclear power plant, which is being built. The information was released by Yuri Solovyev, head of the Belarusian public organization Ecological Initiative, at the roundtable session held on 13 December to discuss the official presentation of results of the project accomplished in 2013 to conduct the public monitoring of the Belarusian nuclear power plant’s environmental impact, BelTA has learned.
According to Yuri Solovyev, the public monitoring in 2013 was the first part of the public control that ecologists intend to carry out. “Nuclear projects should not be implemented without public control. I am glad that the radioactive and ecological status of the environment in the area of the Belarusian nuclear power plant construction site has been evaluated independently. This information cannot be hidden, get lost or altered because it is now public domain,” he stressed.
Scientists and specialists from Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia collected information about radiation levels in the air, soil and water. The information will be used later to assess the environmental impact in the course of the nuclear power plant’s operation.
“We have examined water in the Viliya River, which is called Neris in Lithuania, because our neighbors fear the nuclear power plant’s influence on this water artery above all. We will continue monitoring it. If something changes with regard to the level of radionuclides in the river and in the environment around the station, we will deliver the information via all possible channels,” explained the Belarusian activist.
According to leading research officer of the United Energy and Nuclear Research Institute Sosny Viktor Dashkevich, the seriousness of the intentions of the ecologists is confirmed by the tools used during the monitoring. “They used devices that can register one subatomic decomposition per two tonnes of water. Those are very sensitive devices. They will be used later on. The achieved results indicate that it is a clean area and everything has to be done to keep it that way during the operation of the Belarusian nuclear power plant”.
Belnipienergoprom Deputy Director Alexander Apatsky called upon the general public to take part in control over all the stages of the Belarusian nuclear power plant construction. “The decision has been made, the power plant is being built using the world’s safest nuclear power plant design and utilizing all the possible active and passive safeguards. The general public should stop debating whether Belarus needs it. It is now necessary to closely control the observance of all the design and safety requirements at the level of choice of contractors, suppliers, construction and installation work. Everyone would like the station to comply with the design’s reliability and safety norms in addition to normal operation,” said the official.
Openness of Belarusian nuclear station project praised
The openness of the Belarusian nuclear power plant’s construction process is extremely high and is on par with the practice of the world’s leading countries that operate and build nuclear power plants. The statement was made by Yuri Solovyev, head of the Belarusian public organization Ecological Initiative, at the roundtable session held on 13 December to discuss the official presentation of the monitoring’s results, BelTA has learned.
Yuri Solovyev said that the general public met no hindrances during the organization of and the actual public monitoring in Ostrovets and a number of villages around the nuclear power plant construction site. “We measured everything and took all the samples we wanted in all the places we wanted. Nobody interfered with us but only assisted us. I think it will continue to be so,” he said. He added that in order to visit the construction site they had had to notify the nuclear power plant construction directorate in advance but it is a normal practice for visiting strategic installations and the nuclear power plant is surely one of them.
The ecologist also said that attempts to criticize the technical level of the nuclear power plant construction project do not stand up to criticism. The Belarusian nuclear power plant relies on the AES-2006 design, which has been worked out by internationally recognized specialists. The Saint Petersburg-based project Atomenergoproject needs no introduction because it is highly reputed all over the world. He said he was also satisfied with the performance discipline during the construction process. “We are very glad that the Belarusian project is being implemented on schedule, with all the technical standards met. We would like the state of affairs to continue in the future. We will do our best to monitor the process later on,” said Yuri Solovyev.
Speaking about arguments against the nuclear power plant construction, including those voiced by other ecological organizations, he called upon colleagues to use weighty arguments, for instance, results of their own measurements and researches.
The project to conduct the public monitoring of the Belarusian nuclear power plant’s environmental impact has been carried out upon the initiative of a number of Belarusian ecological organizations with assistance of the general public, scientists, and specialists from Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia. The data collected as part of the project will be used for consequent monitoring. The national center for radiation control and environmental monitoring of the Belarusian Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry used the data collected in 2013 to compile a detailed report. The report will be made available via the websites of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry and the Nuclear Power Plant Construction Directorate soon. Results of the monitoring will also be presented to the general public of Lithuania at a roundtable session in Vilnius on 17 December. The Russian side in the monitoring project was represented by the interregional ecological organization Oka while the Lithuanian side was represented by the Institute for Regional Development and Democracy.
Radiation survey around Belarusian NPP to reach Lithuania
Belarusian environmentalists intend to hold the radiation-environmental monitoring in the Lithuanian regions adjacent to the Belarusian nuclear power plant in 2014, Yuri Solovyov, the head of the Belarusian Ecological Initiative non-governmental association, said during the roundtable to discuss the results of the independent radiation- environmental monitoring around the construction site of the Belarusian NPP in Minsk on 13 December, BelTA learned.
"It may be a joint project with our Lithuanian partners. I hope Lithuania will trust their environmentalists not less than Belarusians trust theirs. The aim of the project is similar to the objectives of monitoring carried out in 2013 when we collected the information which will be used as the benchmark in our further work on the assessment of the environmental impact of the NPP construction project in all stages of its life cycle: construction, operation and decommissioning,” Yuri Solovyov said.
The results presented at the roundtable show that the levels of natural radiation background around the construction site in Ostrovets are extremely low. According to Yuri Solovyov, it would be naive to expect something abnormal in Ostrovets and in the villages near the NPP construction site, and even on the site itself. The natural background is normal. Atomic fuel has not yet been delivered. But the collected information is needed as benchmark measurements. So it would be great to take samples of soil, air and water and do other measurements on the Lithuanian territory.”
“We also look forward to the exchange of data with Lithuanian colleagues about radiation-environmental situation in the region of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, the prospective site for the future Visaginas nuclear power plant, and especially at the place of nuclear fuel waste burial for the Ignalina plant,” noted Yuri Solovyov.
He underscored that the spent fuel burial site on the Lithuanian territory is of the greatest concern of the Belarusian public: “We have not yet received any documents, no official information about the security systems applied there. So far we have to trust that it is a European and hence safe project. But should any leakage of radioactive waste happen, the unique Belarusian lake located less than a kilometer away will be lost forever.” Moreover, the Belarusian environmentalist expressed concern about the reports in media claiming that there are plans to store the waste from not only the Ignalina plant but other plants in other EU countries in Lithuania. "It is logical from the point of view of the economy and costs. But it is extremely threatening from an environmental point of view, and we want to be sure that everything is safe there.”
The project “Public monitoring of the impact of the Belarusian nuclear power plant on the environment" is part of the independent public monitoring system in Belarus and is implemented on the initiative of a number of Belarusian environmental organizations with the participation of scientists and specialists from Belarus, Russia and Lithuania. The information will make part of the databank and will be used for follow-up monitoring. Based on the information collected in 2013 the national center of radiation control and monitoring at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Belarus has prepared a detailed report, which will soon be posted on the websites of the ministry and the NPP Construction Directorate. Monitoring results will also be presented to the public of Lithuania at a roundtable in Vilnius on 17 December.
The Oka cross-regional environmental organization took part in the monitoring on behalf of Russia, and the institute for regional development and democracy on behalf of Lithuania.
Presentation of Belarusian nuclear station environmental report in Lithuania
Belarusian ecologists plan to present results of the public monitoring of the Belarusian nuclear power plant’s environmental impact in Lithuania on 17 December. The information was released by Yuri Solovyev, head of the Belarusian public organization Ecological Initiative, at the roundtable session held on 13 December to discuss the official presentation of the monitoring’s results, BelTA has learned.
The project to conduct the public monitoring of the Belarusian nuclear power plant’s environmental impact was carried out in 2013 with assistance of the general public, scientists, and specialists from Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia. Yuri Solovyev explained that as part of the project samples of water, air, and soil were taken in populated localities around the Ostrovets site where the nuclear power plant is being built, with radiation background measured. “The information will be used as the background that will allow us to assess the nuclear power plant’s environmental impact after the power plant is commissioned. A special databank to store the information is being created,” he said.
The national center for radiation control and environmental monitoring of the Belarusian Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry used the monitoring data to compile a detailed report. The report will be made available via the websites of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry and the Nuclear Power Plant Construction Directorate soon. The relevant arrangements are in place already.