1 September 2020, 21:00 | ATOMBY
Due to the current political situation in Belarus, environmentalists and green activists have called for halting the ongoing activation of the Belarusian Astravets Nuclear Power Plant (BelNPP). The plant activation was started in August of this year, shortly after the controversial presidential election. A collection of concerned groups have banded together to form the Belarusian anti-nuclear campaign (BANC). BANC currently includes the Belarusian Green Party, the public campaign “Astravets Nuclear Power Plant is a Crime!”, the public association “Ecodom”, as well as representatives of the Center for Environmental Solutions, Friends of the Neman, Euro-Belarus, the public inspection group “Green Watch” and individual activists.
The current political situation in Belarus has attracted international attention. The entire world is watching what is happening in our country – they see not only the hundreds of thousands of people on the streets demanding justice, but also the violence, the use of the military force against unarmed citizens, the arbitrary detentions, the fabricated criminal cases. Most notably, the world witnesses the use of terror by the current regime employed with the only purpose of keeping the current ruler in power by any means.
In this situation, it is difficult to talk about the environment. Unfortunately, the current regime has, for 26 years, allowed systemic environmental damage. Ecologists claim Belarus’s natural environment may already not be able to recover to its pre-Lukashenko state.
The government’s current crisis of legitimacy, together with the corrupt legal system, and poor past environmental record, may lead to a dramatic unfolding of events. Belarus will see new victims, including destruction of the economy, degradation in the image of our country, and even the loss of sovereignty. It’s time to stop this confrontation and terror and start an honest dialogue with the people of Belarus.
It is extremely important now not to miss the main objective. In the dispute between the Belarusian government and the people of Belarus, everyone can lose. Especially if unacceptable means are used, such as the ill-fated activation of an unnecessary and dangerous nuclear power plant. After all, not a single dictatorship abolished the laws of nature, despite stubborn opposition to them.
A nuclear power plant is a particularly powerful and dangerous facility that should not be activated in the time of political crisis or revolution.
Internal Belarusian security forces, which could have been involved in eliminating the consequences of a possible accident, are instead fully engaged in confronting the protesters. Personnel are concentrated in areas of mass protests. In the event of a nuclear emergency, there will be no one to warn citizens about an accident or to mitigate its consequences.
In a nuclear reactor, the risk of an accident increases exponentially from the point of launch. In the case of BelNPP, the risks are even higher considering shortcomings and issues during its construction.
Shortly before the presidential election, the Ministry of Emergency Situations changed the procedure for activating the BelNPP to allow the activation in stages under individual permits. This staged activation will allow BeINPP to be functional well before it has completed the relevant safety checks needed to grant the nuclear operating license. These stages have already begun, with the first reactor power unit already loaded with fuel.
As history teaches, the life of a dictator is unlikely to exceed 100 years, but nuclear waste and the consequences of nuclear accidents remain dangerous for far longer.
The activation of the nuclear power plant near Astravets must be stopped!
September 1, 2020
Belarusian Green Party
Public campaign “Astravets Nuclear Power Plant is a Crime!”
Public Association “Ecodom”
Tatiana Novikova, ecologist, publicist, coordinator of the Belarusian anti-nuclear campaign (BANC)
Tatiana Poshevalova, International NGO “Eurobelarus”
Nina Polutskaya, Director of the Friends of the Neman NGO
Natalia Porechina, Center for Environmental Solutions
Inessa Bolotina, ecologist
Leonid Platonenko, eco-activist
Igor Pastukhov, regional coordinator of the public environmental inspection “Green Watch”
Alexander Doroshevich, public environmental inspection “Green Watch”
Elena Sadovskaya, journalist, editor
Ivan Kovzel, PhD, University of Bergen, Norway