Nuclear power in the EU EU nuclear politics in relation to enlargement
NOAH´s Energigruppe afholdt workshop om "EU´s a-kraft politik og østudvidelsen" 15. december 2002. Se referat her.
Workshop 15.12.02. Holmen, Copenhagen
Chair: Henning Bo Madsen, NOAH - Friends of the Earth Denmark
Introduced the speakers and the topics of their presentations:
Stuart Field, WISE-Amsterdam (World Information Service on Energy):
· The nuclear situation today in the EU.
· The nuclear package proposed by the Commission.
· The future of the Euratom treaty.
o FoE-Europe has made an effort to put it on the agenda before the Convention.
Aurel Duta, MAMA TERRA / For Mother Earth Romania:
· The nuclear situation in Romania in relation to the EU
Per Hegelund, FMKK, Sweden: (The Swedish anti nuclear movement).
· About the nuclear situation in Sweden and about nuclear research (ESS)
The situation in the EU today – what will happen with the nuclear power after the enlargement?
Background: In the 1950’es there were several attempts made to unite Europe and prevent war, resulting in The Coal and Steel Union (later EEC and EU).
A special task force was formed to promote nuclear power; it resulted in the Euratom- treaty (intended to “contribute to the raising of the standard of living”).
The Coal and Steel Community treaty is now expired leaving nuclear as the only technology with its own treaty.
The treaty is unreformed and undemocratic, without right for co-decision for the European Parliament.
As it is, the treaty - like nuclear waste but unlike other European treaties - has no expiration date.
The growth of nuclear power has had a shape of an S – it is approaches a limit around 140 reactors altogether in Europe. Approx. 130.000 MW.
Yet Euratom still promotes the growth of nuclear power.
The current EU consists of 3 groups: 7 countries (A, DK, GR, I, IRL, L, P) without nuclear power -plants. 5 countries (B, D, ES, NL, S) planning to phase out nuclear power and 3 countries (F, GB, SF) that will continue use of nuclear power. Only in one new reactor is planned – in Finland.
What will the enlargement mean?
The present situation is: The accession countries have Chernobyl-type and other old Soviet-designed reactors, plus few of western design. Altogether 27 reactors in Lithuania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia i.e. half of the new member states.
Nuclear power has continued to grow in accession countries.
The most dangerous are Chernobyl-type RBMK-reactors – a graphite-moderated, water cooled boiling water reactor. It is the type we find in Lithuania at Ignalina. The EU wants it to be shut down; but it covers 88% of Lithuania’s energy needs, so it is not a simple matter. The closing has been postponed for seven years.
Other types are:
VVER 440_230: 1st generation pressurized water reactor. Also dangerous. Does not contain the radioactive material in case of an accident.
VVER 440-213, 2nd generation: does not have containment either. Still the EU says they will not have to be shut down yet. There is a fair amount of this type.
VVER 1000: 3rd generation. Still problems with reactor vessel embattlement and fire risk. Temelin in Czech Republic is very controversial, because of mix between Soviet-type and Western (Westinghouse) technology. It started commercial production in 2000.
Reactor in Bulgaria (Kozloduy) has not been closed – was supposed to. More dangerous than Chernobyl. There’s a lack of money to close down.
Bulgaria has an agreement with the EU to close down the four worst reactors in exchange for fun-dings to improve two others. Bulgaria has tried to avoid their part of the agreement. The reports from a EU examination team in October has not come out yet.
Close downs are continuously being postponed.
1. WASTE – 2008 – 2013 – 2018
All member states should find out before 2008 how and where to store waste; preferably deep geologic “disposal”. By 2013 these sites must be operational for intermediate and low-level waste and by 2018 operational for high-level waste.
- We should beware of countries evading this by saying they conduct research on waste treatment without actually making solutions.
The EU commissioner on energy, who is in favour of nuclear power, believes that if there seems to be a solution with respect to waste, people in the western part of the EU will be in favour of nuclear power. And the people in eastern European countries will take the same standpoint.
Comment from the floor: Anna-Liisa Mattsoff from No More Nuclear Power Movement in Finland: We are worried that Finland who actually is establishing such disposal sites will accept imports of wastes from other countries.
Stuart Field: Russia has declared that it will import nuclear waste to earn money and to improve reactor safety. But money will probably mostly be lost in corruption.
France will need a very large site, so they will probably just make it big enough so it can hold waste from other countries.
2. Decommissioning + safety.
The first problem is that the funds for this are too small, the second is that money for decommissioning has been used for other purposes. EdF (Electricité de France) has spent their funds on buying other companies. So the French government is now against the EU nuclear package on this point.
The EU has taken legal action against France. EdF is the biggest NP-utility in the world. France will most probably be defeated because it cannot hide behind the state guarantee for the decommissioning.
UK has too small decommissioning funds as well. Only 10% of the amount needed. There are moves towards setting EU safety standards. However national nuclear safety authorities will continue to regulate nuclear safety.
3. Negotiations with Russia: “Uranium for safety.”
Reactors in Russia are even more dangerous than in accession countries.
The EU will import more Russian uranium if they upgrade their safety. What will happen? More money for European nuclear! Safety will not really be upgraded. Western nuclear fuel is already being made in Russia. Holland prefers it because it is cheap. Watch the pockets of the top shots in Russia!
(1) + (2) + (3) have been decided by the energy ministers.
4. Euratom loans up from EUR 4 bn. to EUR 6 bn. to improve reactor safety in Eastern Europe. Needs consensus.
(4) has been decided by ministers of Finance or Economy – not the Energy ministers.
A committee (The Article 31 committee) is looking into technical legal problems proposing (1) + (2), because the Euratom treaty does not speak about waste and decommissioning.
The Energy Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio, knows that the member states cannot meet the demands in (1).
Different organizations want to abolish Euratom treaty. Why have a nuclear treaty? – there’s no wind treaty etc. The EU should not give loans to the nuclear industry. If Euratom is scrapped it will show that nuclear power is not economic.
The nuclear industry is desperate, there has not been built any new plants for a long time, so they will do anything to get a chance to build.
But if the Euratom treaty is going to be abolished all member countries will have to vote in favour of it.
Aurel Duta, Romania:
Romania has one reactor. Former president Ceaucescu wanted to build five. Romania has enough electricity for its own needs, but Euratom and investment banks want to add capacity. Romania will get money to build several more reactors. Has not tested safety and environmental impact. Italy stopped their own nuclear energy in ’86 but supports nuclear power in Romania.
Romania has been offered big loans, but they must be paid back! And Romania has a lot of social problems. About 2000 orphan kids live in the streets. We need to invest money in social problems.
But the money is put into nuclear, the EU, and NATO. In ’98 native people came to Romania from around the world to tell about how mining of uranium destroyed their lives.
It’s hard to talk about the problems with radiation, they are not being acknowledged – not even by green politicians in Romania.
Next month there will be held a conference in Romania on nuclear energy and its effects. Hopefully it will succeed and give the people a better understanding of the problems.
Questions concerned mining of Uranium, the environmental and waste problems.
Aurel: Romania has open mining, the uranium is used in Romania, there is a big impact on environment and security standards are not met in the mining. There are many cases of cancer incidents and other diseases around the mining areas.
The waste is not a subject of debate! It is hard to tell if it will be exported to Russia, but Romania will probably make its own dump site.
Contribution by Anna-Liisa Mattsoff, Finland:
The Finnish Government plans to build a fifth reactor. The legislation will be presented in 2003.
The anti nuclear movement consists of about 40 different organizations in Finland.
At this stage they ask international organizations to write letters of protest to the shareholders about the facts of nuclear power. Are also making a campaign to persuade local people to avoid investing in the nuclear power companies.
We demand that the government will promote bio-energy as promised (they want to run away from it)
Per Hegelund, Swedish anti nuclear movement FMKK.:
On the nuclear power situation in Sweden
· Sweden has had a referendum to decommission all nuclear plants, but action has been delayed time after time. The Barsebäck-reactor II (very near Malmö and Copenhagen) has not been closed as promised. The latest promise is that it will close 2003.
· In 1997 there was a conference in Stockholm about transmutation, the idea being that you can change nuclear waste into something less dangerous. There is worldwide research.
· The Swedish solution so far has been to make a deep hole in the rock, store the waste and cover it again.
· A scientific committee that advises on nuclear waste has proposed that the Swedish government change the law so it is legal to make research in transmutation.
On European Spallation Source – ESS – project in Lund.
· A European project is going to be decided in 2003. Swedish and Danish scientists lobby in order to have ESS placed in Lund in Southern Sweden.
· ESS will be a very large facility (Estimated cost: 1.5 bn. EUR)
· The neutron beam will be one hundred times stronger than in similar facilities in US and Japan.
· Waste mercury and other waste will have to be stored for as long as 30.000 years.
· You cannot have transmutation without first separating the different isotopes from the radioactive waste. Some will become more dangerous.
· EU Commission: Joint undertaking, article 5 Euratom treaty for very big projects. Said that it will propose this. Probably in use for the ESS. Because transmutation is very expensive.
· Euratom ought to be dissolved. Half of the EU is against nuclear power, so why should our money go to this; it is also an undemocratic body, without co-decision by Parliament.
Henning Bo Madsen summing up:
· Nuclear power is clearly on the agenda in the EU.
· The nuclear package is being worked on.
· FoE-Europe wants to abolish the Euratom treaty.
[Minutes by Janus Day and Palle Bendsen]
Friends of the Earth Europe is leading a coordinated campaign to scrap the 1957 Euratom Treaty, which it sees as out of date, undemocratic and biased towards nuclear power over other energy options.
An "Abolish Euratom!" declaration signed by civil society organisations across Europe will be presented to the European Convention early in 2003. The more organisations that sign-up, the louder the voice Europe’s political leaders will hear.
Find a downloadable copy of the sign-on declaration and a downloadable copy of the background briefing at
For more information on the Euratom campaign and other European nuclear issues: http://www.foeeurope.org/activities/nuclear/nuclear.htm