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Belarusian Environmentalists Complain to the UN about Ukraine Completing Two Reactors at Khmelnytska Nuclear Power Plant

The decision of the Parliament of Ukraine on the construction of the 3rd and 4th blocks of the Khmelnytska nuclear power plant caused indignation in many countries. However, the Belarusian public was the most active and decided to defend its rights in Geneva.Belarusian environmentalists appealed to the Committee on the Implementation of the Espoo Convention, hoping to force Ukraine to hold consultations on the completion of two nuclear reactors at the Khmelnytska nuclear power plant. The Committee on Implementation will start an investigation which could become an important factor in Ukraine's relations with the EU, Russia, the IAEA and the EBRD.The convention requires consultation with involved states and the public which may be effected by the completion of the Khmelnytska nuclear power plant. In 2011, Ukraine informed a number of states about its intention to make a decision concerning the Khmelnytska nuclear power plant. In response, all states expressed willingness to participate in corresponding consultations. Belarusian NGOs addressed the Ministry of Environment of Belarus and the Ministry of Environment of Ukraine and were assured that the discussions concerning the project's completion will be held with them. The Belarusian public prepared its comments this summer with access to the environmental impact assessment. However, there was a corresponding draft law registered in the Parliament of Ukraine in August, and the law was adopted at the beginning of September.Considering that a number of our neighbors are also dissatisfied with this approach, the Belarusian NGOs' appeal may gain broad international support. The result of such international support is easy to predict, especially considering recent rejections of nuclear power by a number of states: Ukraine will be under pressure from the international community to reverse the decision on the completion of the 3rd and 4th blocks of the Khmelnytska nuclear power plant.Theoretically, power engineers can try to solve this problem at the project level when the project documentation for each reactor will be ready. This will require adherence to a number of conditions and will complicate the consultation process for Ukraine. With the lack of coordination between the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Environment, it will be simply impossible to provide such consultations.The anti-nuclear movement in Ukraine, which unites environmental organizations, is also preparing to appeal the decision on the 3rd and 4th blocks of the Khmelnytska nuclear power plant. According to NGOs, not all local people and local authorities support completion of the Khmelnytska nuclear power plant. They also question the feasibility of nuclear energy development in Ukraine.

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