Opposition party launches campaign against nuclear plant in Belarus

Friday, November 7, 2008

Minsk, Nov 06, 2008 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) -- Seven residents of Hrodna Region's Astravets District have announced their intention to campaign against the government's plans to build a nuclear power plant in the area in western Belarus.

The group is led by Mikalay Ulasevich, a sole entrepreneur and member of the [opposition] United Civic Party.

"We resolutely say 'no' to this dangerous project," the campaigners say in a statement posted on the party's website, http://www.ucpb.org.

They say that they "do not share the unreasonable and imprudent optimism of those who insistently advocate the construction of a nuclear power plant in the Narach-Vileyka natural reserve and recreational area". The campaigners stress that the area was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 1909, the strongest quake ever recorded in Belarus, which they say makes the construction of a nuclear facility there too risky.

They express certainty that "the construction of a nuclear power plant in post-Chernobyl Belarus is not just a mistake but a criminal design that would inevitably lead to another big and irreparable trouble going far beyond the national scale". The group urged the Belarusian public and government, the international community, the media and the International Atomic Energy Agency to "halt the project until it's too late". Government experts currently view the area near Astravets close to the Lithuanian border as the most probable site for the plant construction.

While talking to reporters in October, Deputy Energy Minister Mikhail Mikhadzyuk noted that that an area near the village of Chyrvonaya Palyana close to Chavusy, Mahilyow Region, and a site near the village of Kukshynava between Horki and Shklow, Mahilyow Region, were considered as back-up options.

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