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Tobias Munchmeyer, Greenpeace
"It's a crazy idea to replace Chernobyl with two new nuclear reactors"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 6 September, 2000, 14:35 GMT 15:35 UK
EU to fund Chernobyl replacements
Chernobyl plant
Chernobyl: Costly repairs are needed to make it safe
By Oana Lungescu in Strasbourg

The European Commission has approved plans to help fund two new nuclear reactors in Ukraine to replace the unstable nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, due to close later this year.

The commission argues that the loans are part of efforts to improve nuclear safety in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

But the plans have already caused concern among EU governments.

There were sighs of relief earlier this year, when Ukraine announced that by December, it would shut down Chernobyl, the site of the world's worst nuclear accident 14 years ago.

Chernobyl reactors
Unit 4: exploded, 1986
Unit 2: closed in 1991 after major fire
Unit 1: closed in 1996 at G7's request
Unit 3: closing December 2000

But the closure is conditional upon American and EU aid.

The European Commission said it was now considering granting a loan to Ukraine for the completion of two new nuclear reactors at Ryvne and Khmelnitsky to an internationally acceptable safety level.


Germany, Austria and Sweden, which are pushing for the phasing out of nuclear power, have voiced concerns about the project, which would cost $1.5bn.

But commission officials insist that the EU has to stick to a commitment made in 1995 by the Group of Seven industrialised nations to fund alternative sources of energy, including nuclear reactors, in Ukraine.

While the European Commission could go ahead without approval from EU governments, it says it will only do so if the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development also contributes.

Another EU loan is expected to go to the construction of a nuclear reactor at Kalinin in Russia, if Moscow agrees to shut down at least one older facility.

Phasing out old reactors

In the absence of clear European legislation on nuclear safety, the European Commission argues it must provide incentives for the closure of outdated nuclear reactors in the east.

Last year, it asked Slovakia, Bulgaria and Lithuania to give clear dates for phasing out their dangerous nuclear plants before they could start talks on joining the Union.

But Austria has taken a harder line, and threatened to veto EU membership for the Czech Republic unless it proved that the Temelin nuclear power plant, due to go on line in the next few weeks, meets EU safety standards.

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See also:

05 Jul 00 | Europe
Chernobyl aid pledged
02 Sep 00 | Europe
Nuclear protesters block border
06 Jun 00 | Europe
Chernobyl to close
05 Jun 00 | Europe
Chernobyl closure saga
10 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Chernobyl's effects linger on
22 Apr 00 | Europe
Deadly toll of Chernobyl
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