Government expert praises environmental group for readiness for \"dialogue\" on nuclear power


An NGO called Ekalahichaskaya Initsyyatyva (Environmental Initiative) held a conference in Minsk on Tuesday to launch a project aimed at creating a system of public control over the environmental impact of Belarus' first-ever nuclear power plant, which is currently under construction in the Hrodna region.

"The creation of such an environmental movement is a very right and expected move," Viktar Dashkevich, of the Sosny nuclear research institute, told BelaPAN. "This environmental movement stresses its readiness for dialogue, for contributing to joint efforts by environmentalists, scientists, builders, designers for the sake of ensuring that our nuclear power plant is the world's safest."

"Whether the atom is useful or harmful depends on specific applications. If we take the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, one cannot say that the atom was useful. But if we take the development of nuclear power and the big number of cancer patients saved thanks to radiation therapy, we can say that the atom can be useful," he said.

Commenting on the Belarusian government's decision to ban prominent Russian environmental expert Andrei Ozharovsky from visiting Belarus for 10 years for his criticism of the nuclear power plant, Mr. Dashkevich said, "I have not met him, but I have met higher-ranking people from Bellona, they avoid face-offs [with authorities]. Ozharovsky is the radical wing, a hawk, such people also should exist."

Commenting on reports that Ekalahichaskaya Initsyyatyva is a pro-government organization established to reduce the influence of more radical environmental groups, the expert said, "In my view, it is a reasonable alternative to existing hawks. We need dialogue. We cannot have dialogue with Ms. Sukhiy and her organization Ecodom. They are not paid to hold dialogue. Dialogue is needed for our public to receive objective information rather than some cliches and remarks taken out of context to create a media hype."

He acknowledged that cliches were used by both sides in what he described as an "information war" over the controversial nuclear project. "But there are also attempts by both sides to communicate impartial opinions to the public," he added.