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Mochovce: Important test for Western N-Industry

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(November 18, 1994) Faced with constricting markets, public opposition, and an increasingly difficult regulatory climate, the nuclear industry has looked longingly at former Eastern Europe as the ticket to continued survival of the industry. An important test cases for this effort is at the Mochovce Nuclear Power Plant in Slovakia. (see also related story in WISE NC 406.4023)

(422.4179) Phil Weller - Mochovce NPP, located one hundred and twenty kilometers east from the capital Bratislava, in Slovakia is a partially built VVER 440-213 reactor whose construction was halted in 1991 because of a lack of funds. The Slovensky Energeticky Podnik (SEP), which took over responsibility for the plant following the separation of the Czech and Slovak Republics, now wants to complete construction of two units (four units were designed and partially constructed) of the Soviet reactors. A consortium of western firms, headed by Electricite de France (EdF) but involving participation from Siemens and possibly Bayernwerke have joined forces with the SEP to seek funding from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Euratom (the nuclear arm of the European Union) to complete units one and two at Mochovce.

A proposal has been submitted by EMO, a joint venture company be-tween EdF and SEP (Bayernwerke has an option to participate in the company), to EBRD to fund a portion of the costs of completion of Mochovce. The EBRD has been asked to supply approximately 350 million DM from the total 1.3 billion estimated needed to complete the plant. The EBRD is currently contemplating the possibility of providing funding and has established three conditions for approval of a loan. The loan is conditional upon:

  1. the completion of units 1 and 2 being clearly demonstrated as the least-cost option open to SEP, and the establishment of economic and financial viability of the project.
  2. the commissioning of these units at Mochovce coinciding with, or being contingent upon, the closure of the two VVER-230 units, know as "V-1", at Bohunice, closer to Bratislava, and
  3. the completion and subsequent operations of Mochovce meeting internationally accepted environmental and nuclear safety standards.

In addition to these conditions, the EBRD environmental procedures require that an environmental assessment and public participation process be carried out to evaluate the environmental impacts and to hear the views of the public on the project. Environmentalists in Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Austria have been active for months in criticizing the project and promoting instead available energy efficiency and alternatives to Mochovce.

Central to the criticisms of NGOs are that additional electrical energy is not needed, that lower cost and safer options exist, and that the plant will not be safe. In a September 16 letter to EBRD President de Larosiere the Austrian environmental organization Global 2000 presented the results of an in-depth study of the energy situation in Slovakia that found "in addition to not completing Mochovce, Slovakia could close the two most dangerous units of Bohunice in 1995 without jeopardizing the security of the electricity supply." (see WISE NC 419.4155) In order to shut the remaining Bohunice blocks, a generating capacity of 650 MW would be needed to created by 1999 and that this capacity could be supplied more cheaply by converting and building new combined gas heating power plants. A study of combined heat and power plants completed by the Slovakian Fund for Alternative Energy reinforced this view as did a one million dollar study funded by the Austrian government and conducted in cooperation with the Slovak government.

On December 8, 1994 an official public participation process begins that will allow all environmentalists and people concerned about the expansion of nuclear power and the need for alternative energy strategies to present their comments about the project. People will have until February 17, 1995 to provide comments and opinions about the project. A project description, information on planned safety improvements, an economic study of the project and alternatives, and an Environmental Impact Assessment of the project will be available from SEP. in Slovakian Embassies in Budapest, Warsaw, Vienna, Prague, Kiev and at 5 locations in Slovakia.

It is critical that as many people and organizations as possible participate in this process and provide comments either in written form or at hearings that will be held in Slovakia or in some other countries.

Mochovce is a crucial test of the European Union and EBRD commitment to support expansion of nuclear power in Central and East Europe (CEE) and to support western firms in exploiting the eastern market. It is expected that the western company involvement in Mochovce will be generously rewarded with the sale of cheap electricity to western Europe. The decision about whether or not to finish building Mochovce, which can only be achieved with the support of western partners and funders (Electricite de France, Euratom and the EBRD), will have a significant influence on the efforts to promote energy efficiency and sane energy alternatives in CEE. Your help is needed in this effort.

Please write to both the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (see address on enclosed sample letter) and Slovensky Energeticky Podnik to express your opinion.

The address for Slovensky Energeticky Podnik is:
Karol Bodorilc
Hranicna 12
827 36 Bratislava, Slovakia

Sources and Contacts

  • Global 2000, Flurschützstrasse 13, 1120 Vienna, Austria, Tel. + 43-1-812.5730, Fax. + 43-1-812.5728
  • Greenpeace, P0 Box, 814 99 Bratislava 1, Slovakia, Tel/Fax: + 42-7- 313.968
  • Paroplynová alternativa, Strana zelenych na Slovensku, Palisady 56, 811 06 Bratislava, Slovakia ("alternative gas and steam power association")