By Ignacio Ortega
Moscow, May 26 (efe-epa).- Belarus has built its first nuclear power plant just over 500 kilometres from Chernobyl and very close to the border with the European Union and is preparing to fire it up despite opposition from neighbouring countries.
Authorities in Minsk have vehemently denied the construction poses a threat but Lithuania is wary of the development and has raised security concerns with the EU.
Belarus deputy energy minister Mikhail Mikhadyuk said: “Both in Chernobyl (Ukraine, 1986) and Fukushima (Japan, 2011) the greatest responsibility for the accident corresponded to man.
“Specifically, in Chernobyl, the culprit was clearly the human factor.
“Therefore, for us, the most important thing is the preparation of the personnel who will manage the plant.”
The Belarusian nuclear power plant will launch in July although it will not be connected to the electricity grid until later in the year.
“We are not in a hurry and we are not following any predetermined deadlines. Our top priority is security,” Mikhadyuk added.
The plant is located in the town of Astravyets, 50 kilometres from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.
Lithuanian politicians have labelled it “the atomic bomb” and accused Russia, which has constructed the plant via engineering company Atomstroyexport, of putting the entire region at risk with Putin’s passion for energy expansion.