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Mochove: further delays and Bank Austria withdraws

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Yann Louvel

Bank Austria, the Austrian subsidiary of the Italian UniCredit banking group, has confirmed that by mutual agreement it will terminate a financial facility granted to Slovenske Elektrarne (SE). SE will be the operator of the Mochovce nuclear reactors 3 & 4, currently under construction.

The confirmation of the Bank Austria withdrawal came after enquiries by Global 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) and Greenpeace Austria."Slovenske Elektrarne has boasted in public presentations that the credit provided by private banks for its ongoing operations were in fact indirectly used to build the scrap nuclear reactors at Mochovce," said Patricia Lorenz, nuclear campaigner for Global 2000. "This is in direct contradiction with assurances made by Bank Austria earlier on the use of their credit."

In a related development Mochovce NPP operator ENEL/SE also announced early March that the two nuclear units 3 and 4 will be completed one year later than previously planned. The construction of block 3 will now be completed by the end of 2013, and unit 4 not before the middle of 2014.

"We have warned the management of Bank Austria against this risky business for months and are pleased that our negotiations have now led to some results with the bank. The completion of Mochovce 3 and 4 is again pushed a bit further away," said Niklas Schinerl, nuclear expert for Greenpeace Austria.

The reactors planned for Mochovce 3 & 4 are Soviet-type VVER 440 2nd generation reactors, which are designed without a full containment building and cannot be upgraded. As such there is a higher probability of severe accidents and the release of radioactivity.

The building of Slovakia's Mochovce 3 and 4 nuclear reactors is the longest running nuclear construction project anywhere in Europe. The reactors were designed by the Soviet Union back in the 1970s. Construction began back in 1987 but in 1992, soon after the collapse of the communist regime, it was suspended. Economic studies in 2000 showed the project to be a financial disaster.

Although operating since the mid 1980s in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, four of the same model of reactor as Mochovce 3 and 4 under construction in East Germany, were cancelled in 1990 after the German re-unification because the reactors did not meet basic safety standards.

Russia is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for this type of reactor which makes a mockery of the idea that nuclear power provides energy security. An estimated 22 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel is generated by each reactor every year.

The investment required to build Mochovce 3 and 4 is expected to reach 2.775 billion euros. This will devour a massive 77% of SE's investment for new electricity generation 2007 to 2013. Due to the high financial risks for investors, the Slovak government provides generous state aid that is very likely illegal under EU legislation.

"The credit freeze and construction delay are new hurdles for SE and signal a victory in the fight against the building of these reactors" said Yann Louvel, climate and energy campaign coordinator for BankTrack. "As all banks financing SE know, money is fungible. They should do the same as Bank Austria and close down their credit lines with Slovenske Elektrarne to prevent the completion of Mochovce 3 and 4". BankTrack is the global network of civil society organisations targeting the operations and investments of large, international operating  commercial banks.

Source: BankTrack, Press release 15 March 2012
Contact: Yann Louvel at BankTrack,Vismarkt 15, 6511 VJ, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Tel: +33 (0) 688 907 868
Email: yann[at]

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