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Opinions & Interviews

17 Oct 2018

IAEA praises Belarus’ preparedness for emergencies

IAEA praises Belarus’ preparedness for emergencies

MINSK, 17 October (BelTA) – Reliable mechanisms to respond to emergencies have been created in Belarus. Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Juan Carlos Lentijo made the statement after an IAEA mission finished work in Belarus, BelTA has learned.

An Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission sent by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finished work in Belarus on 17 October. The visit had been requested by the Belarusian government. According to Juan Carlos Lentijo, the IAEA experts believe that Belarus has effective and reliable mechanisms in the area of emergency preparedness and response. The IAEA experts also mentioned good and applicable practices, emphasized strong points and the points, which could use some improvement. But the main results of the mission are the possible ways for improving the national mechanisms of emergency preparedness and response. The practices singled out by the experts will allow other countries to improve their national systems and mechanisms.

Juan Carlos Lentijo also spoke about the IAEA’s Response and Assistance Network (RANET). He stressed that this instrument is designed to promptly provide assistance in case of nuclear and radiation emergencies. RANET represents an important mechanism for sharing the best practices and experience in the area of emergency preparedness and response. Belarus had been registered as part of RANET the day before the EPREV mission finished working in the country.

Belarusian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Vashchenko mentioned the importance of expert opinion. “Acting upon instructions of the head of state to make our nuclear power plant the safest one there is, we constantly improve our knowledge and invite missions and specialists,” he said. “An objective outside opinion is very important for us. Today we’ve seen that the work we’ve done, the preparedness and response system have received high opinion. We are going to analyze the resulting recommendations and proposals and will abide by them. We have no intention to stop. We will continue getting better.”

Vladimir Vashchenko reminded that the IAEA experts had been able to see the work of Belarusian fire fighters and rescue workers in practice. “Our training ground allows simulating and responding to any emergency. Dozens of emergencies have been dealt with. We’ve received high scores,” he concluded.

In the course of their mission the EPREV team determined several advantages of Belarus. For instance, the Belarusian system for responding to nuclear accidents is integrated into the general emergency response system, which is designed to handle all kinds of dangers. The team also mentioned a comprehensive program on international cooperation to ensure preparedness for emergencies and responding to them, including nuclear and radiation events. The nuclear power plant near Ostrovets also has an emergency response center, which allows rescue workers to better coordinate their efforts.

The EPREV experts also mentioned good opportunities for training in the sphere of responding to nuclear and radiation emergencies as well as other kinds of emergencies. The treatment of victims received high grades.

BelTA reported earlier that the IAEA’s EPREV mission started working in Belarus on 8 October. The team visited the Belarusian nuclear power plant, the Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry (Gosatomnadzor), the Safe Industrial Practices Department of the Emergencies Ministry (Gospromnadzor), several other organizations of the Belarusian Emergencies Ministry, the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Ministry, the Energy Ministry, the Healthcare Ministry, the national center for hydrometeorology, radioactive pollution control, and environmental monitoring (Belgidromet), and other organizations.

The mission was invited taking into account the construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. The IAEA offers accident preparedness review services to member states upon request for the sake of evaluating their preparedness for nuclear or radiation emergencies. An EPREV mission helps bolster the national potential for responding to emergencies in line with IAEA safety standards.

The Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built using the Russian standard Generation III+ design AES-2006 near Ostrovets, Grodno Oblast. The first power-generating unit is scheduled for commissioning in 2019, with the second one to go online in 2020.

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