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Belarus planning public hearings on BelNPP, will factor in epidemiological situation

Olga Lugovskaya during the video briefing for the press

MINSK, 11 May (BelTA) – A decision on the format of public hearings before the issuance of the license to operate the first unit of the Belarusian nuclear power plant will be made taking into account the epidemiological situation at the time of the hearings, Olga Lugovskaya, Head of the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry (Gosatomnadzor), said during a video press briefing hosted by BelTA's press center.

“The regulation on public hearings has been approved by the government. The document has defined the format. This is a meeting, during which the regulator delivers the information that will be used to make a decision to issue a license. Of course, we want to stick to this format, some preparatory work has already been done. But given the spread of the coronavirus we will see what the epidemiological situation will be at the time of public hearings,” Olga Lugosvkaya said.

According to the law, public hearings should be held in the settlement situated as close as possible to the site of the nuclear power plant. This is the town of Ostrovets.

According to Olga Lugovskaya, the date of public hearings has not yet been set. Five days before the event, the materials for the hearings will be posted on the website of the Gosatomnadzor.

“We will be consulting with the local authorities, other authorized bodies, including the Healthcare Ministry to discuss how we can make this procedure [public hearings] as safe as possible,” added Olga Lugovskaya.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built near Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast using a Russian design featuring two VVER-1200 reactors with the total output capacity of 2,400MW. Rosatom's engineering division – ASE Company – is the general contractor. The first unit is supposed to go online in 2020, with the second one scheduled for launch in 2021. Belarus' Energy Ministry informed about the delivery of nuclear fuel to the Ostrovets NPP on 6 May.

As it has been reported, public hearings should be held before the issuance of the license for the operation of the BelNPP first unit. According to Resolution No.258 issued by the Council of Minister of 24 April 2019, the date of the hearings shall be announced on the website of the Emergencies Ministry and in mass media no later than five days before their conduct. Belarus nationals, foreign citizens and stateless persons can participate in public hearings.