Chernobyl fears as ‘ticking time bomb’ nuclear plant in Belarus rocked by blasts just a day after opening

Chernobyl fears as ‘ticking time bomb’ nuclear plant in Belarus rocked by blasts just a day after opening

November 13, 2020

EXPLOSIONS have halted electricity generation at Belarus’s first nuclear power plant the day after it opened amid fears of a Chernobyl style radiation catastrophe.

Several voltage transformers reportedly blew up within the Russian-built plant, sparking fears of a leak — with neighbouring Lithuania dishing out iodine tablets to its citizens.

The nuclear power plant stopped generating electricity the day after it was formally opened by President Alexander Lukashenko.

The dictator inaugurated the Russian-built and -financed Astravyets plant on Saturday. 

But the following day the plant stopped producing power after electrical equipment broke down, according to Oleg Sobolev, a consultant at the Belarusian Emergency Ministry's department of nuclear and radiation safety.

He said: "The turbine is stopped. There is indeed no electricity generation at the nuclear power plant.

"But this does not affect nuclear and radiation safety."

But neighbouring Lithuania was not taking any chances and has distributed iodine tablets to its citizens.

The substance can help reduce radiation buildup in the thyroid in case of a nuclear leak or fallout from a weapon.

The Belarus plant is 25 miles southeast of the Baltic country’s capital Vilnius.

It fears the Soviet-like secrecy in Belarus and a history of accidents mean the plant poses a threat and that an accident could contaminate drinking water for a third of its 2.8 million people.

Belarus itself bore the brunt of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which spewed radioactive fallout from a plant in then-Soviet Ukraine across large areas of Europe.

That painful legacy has fueled opposition to the nuclear plant project in Belarus.

Lithuania closed its sole Soviet-built nuclear power plant in 2009.

But during the weekend ceremony opening the plant, Lukashenko showed no fear of nuclear power, trumpeting the new power station as an impetus for attracting the most advanced technologies to the country, and innovative directions in science and education.

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, which built the plant, has rejected the Lithuanian complaints, saying the plant's design conforms to the highest international standards as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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