CENTRAL & EASTERN EUROPE: Activists press for decision on nuclear closures prior to EC accession talks
Greenpeace campaigners in Eastern and Central Europe are calling on the EC to promise that Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria will not be granted EU status unless early closure of 'high-risk' reactors is agreed.
“In the Communist era it was the official doctrine to produce as much electricity by nuclear means as possible and that is still a lasting policy in our electricity management,” Lubica Trubiniova of Greenpeace Slovakia, told edie. Trubiniova is frustrated that the electricity sector is making no efforts to move into energy efficient generation like cogeneration or to introduce plans for energy conservation. “Renewables are still at a zero level in our country,” she said
Greenpeace has called on the EC to ensure early closure of “high-risk” reactors in three countries – Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria. These three countries operate first generation Soviet-designed units that Greenpeace deems “the most dangerous in the world”. The reactors in question are:
- Ignalina 1 and 2 in Lithunia
- Bohunice VI (in 2 units) in Slovakia
- Kozloduy 1-4 in Bulgaria
With original closure agreements for these reactors “broken or ignored”, Greenpeace wants the EC to institute a non-negotiable precondition for early closure at the Helsinki summit in December.
“Our politicians are under strong pressure from the monopolist nuclear industry,” said Trubiniova, who believes that lobbying by the industry is what has led Slovakian politicians to adopt a policy of “keeping the Bohunice VI going for as long as possible”. Slovakia originally agreed to close the two Bohunice reactors by 2000, but annulled the decree and announced it would continue to operate them until 2006 and 2008.
“The continued operation of high-risk reactors poses a grave threat to the people and environment of Europe,” said Ben Pearson of Greenpeace International.
Trubiniova says that electricity generated at Bohunice VI is promoted as cheap because the construction costs of the reactors have been paid off, but that the true cost of the electricity, including dealing with radioactive waste, is not being taken into account.
Although the Slovakian population has been positive about nuclear energy in the past, Trubiniova says that public opinion may be changing. An energy survey last year, showed that the public’s top energy choices – tying for first place – were hydro power and energy-efficient generation or energy saving. Renewable energy was also popular, far ahead of the proportion of the population (23%) that chose nuclear power as its preferred form of energy.
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