MEPs challenge EU financial support for Ukraine’s Soviet-era nuclear fleet
Twenty-five Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have signed a letter today urging the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Euratom to suspend their financial support for Ukraine’s ageing nuclear reactors until the potential environmental impacts of their prolonged operation in Ukraine and on neighbouring countries are fully assessed. The letter is available on the Bankwatch website.
1 July 2015
Twenty-five Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have signed a letter today urging the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Euratom to suspend their financial support for Ukraine’s ageing nuclear reactors until the potential environmental impacts of their prolonged operation in Ukraine and on neighbouring countries are fully assessed.
The letter is available on the Bankwatch website.
Three of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear energy units are already operating beyond their design lifetime, and nine others are expected to be given similar permissions by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate by 2020.
A Safety Upgrade Programme, necessary to enable lifetime extensions for these units, is partially financed by loans from the EBRD and Euratom totalling EUR 600 million.
Since a prolonged operation of nuclear energy units beyond their design lifetime could have dramatic consequences for people and the environment across the border, the Espoo Convention, to which Ukraine is a party, requires projects of this kind to have a transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Meeting this legal obligation is also one of the conditions for the loans from Euratom and the EBRD. And yet, the Ukrainian government has so far refused to launch such assessment.
Meeting with campaigners from CEE Bankwatch Network and Nuclear Transparency Watch earlier today at the European Parliament, MEPs from across the political spectrum decided to join the call for freezing the loan proceedings until a proper transboundary EIA is carried out.
Addressed to Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission’s Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness in his position as the Governor of the EBRD as well as to the heads of the EBRD and Euratom, the MEPs’ letter warns, that “the prolonged operation of nuclear reactors implies an increased risk of a severe nuclear accident with potentially devastating impacts on the environment and the people in Ukraine and beyond.”
“Spending millions of EU tax payer’s money on keeping open high risk and out-of-date nuclear power stations in Ukraine is utter madness,” says MEP Dario Tamburrano. “Ukraine’s nuclear authority (SNRIU) has a record of ignoring safety risks and cannot be trusted. In 2013, the SNRIU extended the lifetime of a reactor in the South Ukraine Power Plant until 2023, despite independent studies showing that safety limits have been breached by up to 10 times the acceptable levels! With war still raging in Ukraine, the EU approach to extending the lifetime of nuclear power plants in the country is like having a sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of all European citizens.”
In April and May, following calls from Bankwatch campaigners, the governments of Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary have approached their counterparts in Ukraine with requests for information on the plans for prolonged operation of these nuclear units and for initiating public consultations in their countries.
“But Ukraine appears to be staunchly consistent on disregarding its international environmental obligations,” says Iryna Holovko, Bankwatch’s campaigner for Ukraine. “Two earlier cases, where lifetime extension permits had been granted to the Rivne 1 and Rivne 2 nuclear units, have already been found to be in breach of the Espoo Convention requirements. It is now high time for the EBRD and Euratom to help ensure this does not happen again. In fact, Ukrainians could certainly benefit from a proper and comprehensive EIA process, most of all because it would explore alternative, safer solutions.”
For more information contact:
National campaigner for Ukraine
CEE Bankwatch Network
iryna AT bankwatch.org
Tel.+380 50 647 6700
Note to editors
More information about Ukraine’s nuclear units lifetime extension programme is available on the Bankwatch website.
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