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Ceturtdiena 02.04.2020 | Name days: Imgarde, Irmgarde

Lithuania to play out Astravets NPP disaster scenario in radiation safety exercise

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUIn October 2019, Lithuania will organize radiation safety exercises. As part of them, state and municipal workers will train reaction to a possible disaster at Astravets nuclear power plant, which is currently under construction in Belarus not far from the country’s border with Lithuania.

Exercises that will also simulate evaluation of people from Lithuania’s south-east parts will be attended by observers from Latvia, Estonia, Poland and Britain.

Representatives from Vilnius municipality will also be along observers, because organizers of exercises did not manage to reach an agreement with heads of the capital over the desired scenario.

As stressed by Lithuania’s Interior Affairs Minister Rita Tamašunienė, Astravets NPP creates a threat for both Lithuania’s national security and all of its residents.

«Without exercises, completed homework it would be hard for us to react to all possible situations. This is why these four days will be very important for the country,» she said.

On the first day of exercises –Tuesday, 1 October – the early warning system will be tested in Lithuania: sirens, notification text messages for residents, warning broadcasts on Lithuania’s public television LRT.

Evacuation of people will be simulated the next day. 50 volunteers will be evacuated from Švenčionys district to Zarasai and as many people from Vilnius to Kalvarija municipality. It is also planned to test the so-called temporary relocation, when another 50 volunteers will be moved from Šalčininkai to Varėna.

Sanitary processing of residents from areas impacted by the disaster will also be practised. Residents will be supplied with iodine tablets.

On this third day there will be evaluation of the situation with radiation pollution. Two helicopters will be used for this.

On the last day of exercises Lithuania’s Interior Affairs Ministry will compiled results.

Representatives from 24 Lithuanian state institutions and six municipalities will be taking part in exercises.

According to Lithuania’s Fire and Rescue Department’s acting director Mindaugas Kanapickas, Vilnius municipality’s administration wanted to imitate evacuation of residents and close down Ukmerģe Street.

«These will be only exercises and we do not want to inconvenience residents. We do not agree with this scenario,» he explained, adding that it is not planned to close traffic or limit access to any buildings during exercises.

Vilnius municipality planned to hold exercises on its own in September, but the idea was dropped when services and soldiers announced they would not take part in those exercises.

Fire Department’s civil security office chief Edgaras Geda stressed the biggest mistake people can commit in the event of a possible nuclear disaster is evacuating on their own. This is why residents are urged to remain indoors and wait for instructions.

«Many have watched Chernobyl television series. The main mistake people made was go outside to watch what was happening,» he added.

During exercises it is planned to play out a scenario when Belarusian authorities are not aware of a nuclear disaster in Astravets and Lithuania’s observation system finds increased radiation pollution in the air and water.

According to the interior affairs minister, this is an extreme solution, but Lithuania believes that should something like this happen, Belarus would act responsibly and report the disaster.

Kanapickas said that it is not planned to hold joint exercises with Belarusian officials.

He said in the event of a real incident and real threats Lithuania would ask aid from Minsk and international community for clean-up measures.

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