Hungary – Paks II
The Hungarian nuclear regulator issued the site approval for the Paks II nuclear power plant. The preliminary approval of the environmental permit has been sent to some foreign participants in the EIA procedure (e.g. the organisation Calla in the Czech Republic and Terra Mileniul III in Romania) but only in Hungarian. The responsible authority claims no translation is required under Hungarian law. A court case from Hungarian NGOs, among others Energia Klub and Greenpeace Hungary, against the approval of the environmental permit is pending.
The Hungarian government passed law changes in December 2016, including the possibility for the government, the de facto operator of the Paks II project, which is run from the Prime Minister's office, to divert per decree from licensing conditions for the construction of new nuclear capacity and nuclear waste management. The European Commission is currently investigating this under the allegation of breach of the independence of the nuclear regulator as defined under the Euratom Nuclear Safety Directive. Also, the 7th Review Conference of the Convention on Nuclear Safety at the IAEA in Vienna is discussing the matter.
Finland – Hanhikivi
The Finnish nuclear regulator STUK is currently scrutinising the construction documentation for the Hanhikivi nuclear project of the Finnish-Russian conglomerate Fennovoima. STUK criticised Fennovoima, constructor Rosatom and sub-contractors for having too little capacity to deliver the necessary documentation.
Russia – the floating reactors of the "Akademik Lomonosov"
Rosatom is preparing to load two 35 MW power reactors on board the non-propelled barge "Akademik Lomonosov", which is moored at the Baltic Shipyard in the centre of St. Petersburg, 3.5 km from the Hermitage and 2.5 km from the St. Isaac Cathedral.
Greenpeace Russia, the Yablokov Party and Greenpeace Nordic are urging for a transboundary environmental impact assessment to be made before loading, testing and transport of the barge to its final destination in Chukotka. The transport will lead the barge through the exclusive economic zones and/or territorial waters of most countries around the Baltic Sea.
Slovakia – Mochovce 3,4
The shareholders of Slovenské elektrarne ‒ the Slovak state, Italian utility ENEL and the Czech energy holding EPH ‒ have officially increased the budget for the construction of Mochovce 3,4 with €800 million during their Annual General Meeting in late March 2017. Mochovce 3,4 consists of two Rosatom designed VVER440/213 reactors of the second generation that are not equipped with a secondary containment. The total budget is now €5.4 billion or €5620/kWe capacity, which is comparable to the construction costs of the French designed EPR reactors in Olkiluoto, Finland and Flamanville, France. It is unclear who has to finance these extra costs.
Spain – Santa Maria de Garoña
The Spanish government would like to have the EU's oldest nuclear reactor, the Fukushima type GE Mark 1 reactor at Santa Maria de Garoña, restarted. The reactor was shut down in 2015, when its operator Nuclenor (Endesa / ENEL and Iberdrola) did not see an economic future any longer after necessary upgrades. Political pressure on Nuclenor from the side of the Spanish conservative government has been mounting, however.
On the other side, resistance against a restart in the neighbouring Basque Country is growing. During a session of the Basque Parliament on 5 April 2017, legal steps, among others against the lack of public participation, environmental considerations and comparison with viable alternatives, were prepared with parliament-wide support.
Iberdrola has already made clear that it would rather not restart the aging reactor. Endesa and its owner ENEL have yet to react.
Belgium – Tihange and Doel
On 11 March, around 1,000 people demonstrated in Antwerp against the life-time extension of the Doel 1 and 2 and Tihange 1 reactors, for closure of the crack-ridden Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors, and phase-out of the remaining two reactors Doel 4 and Tihange 3 in 2025.
The lack of public participation and environmental impact assessment for the life-time extension of Doel 1,2 and Tihange 1 is currently pending before the Council of State as well as civil court on complaints from Greenpeace. The city of Aachen (Germany) and the State of North Rhine – Westphalia (Germany) have started legal proceedings in Belgium against the operation of Doel 3 and Tihange 2.
On 25 June, a human chain from Tihange to Aachen is to follow the protests from March 11.
Belarus – Astravetz
The government of Lithuania has stepped up its attempts to prevent the construction of the Belarussian-Russian Astravetz nuclear power station just 40 km from the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. Belarus has promised to submit the Astravetz project to a nuclear stress test under supervision of the European Commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), in the framework of the European post-Fukushima nuclear stress tests. The watchdog group Nuclear Transparency Watch has asked the European Commission to also facilitate input from civil society in that exercise, as happened during the European stress tests and similar stress tests with European support in Taiwan.
Netherlands – Borssele
The Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee is receiving answers on its last question regarding the lack of proper public participation concerning environmental issues in the decisions leading to the 20-year life-time extension of the Borssele nuclear reactor in 2013. The Committee is expected to finalise its findings in April and submit them to the Meeting of Parties of the Aarhus Convention in September.
In the meantime, the owner of Borssele, EPZ, has sold its grid distribution and water businesses for €900 million. It now has to decide whether this one-off income will be used to operate Borssele with a loss until possibly improved electricity prices might turn a profit in the early 2020s, or to use it to close down the aging reactor.
Decommissioning costs are budgeted at €500 million, but the decommissioning fund currently faces a shortage of over €200 million.
The largest two parties coming out of the Dutch parliamentarian elections in March 2017, VVD and PVV, want to continue operation of Borssele. Potential government candidates D66 and GroenLinks want it closed. The other negotiating party, the christian-democrat CDA, did not mention Borssele in its election programme, whereas another potential government coalition candidate, the Christian Union (CU), would like to see closure.
Czech Republic – Dukovany and Temelín
The Dukovany nuclear power station is gradually receiving permission for 20 years' life-time extension. Austrian NGOs including among others Global2000, ÖkoBüro Wien and the ÖkoInstitut in Vienna have started procedures under the Espoo and Aarhus Conventions against the lack of transboundary EIA with public participation.
A conference of anti-nuclear groups in Germany and the Czech Republic in Munich in March 2017 continued investigations into alleged problems during primary circuit welding work in the Temelín unit 1 in 1993. Greens Fichtelgebirge organiser Brigitte Artmann announced the next steps to allow access for German experts to vital documentation and stated: "As long as we are alive and this issue has not been resolved, it is not closed."
UK – Hinkley Point C, Wylfa and Moorside
The Espoo Convention Implementation Committee found the UK in non-compliance with the Espoo Convention for not notifying other countries of its intention to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear reactors. The UK reacted with a notification to all Espoo Convention parties, and currently, at least the Netherlands, Norway and Germany asked for a transboundary EIA.
The Netherlands and Austria also informed WISE they had been notified by the UK of the intention to build new nuclear capacity at Wylfa in Wales and are awaiting the start of a transboundary EIA procedure. With this, legal complaints from the Friends of the Irish Environment, An Taisce (the Irish Trust), the German member of the Bundestag Greens Sylvia Kötting-Uhl and German citizen Brigitte Artmann, have been successful. The Espoo Implementation Committee even went a step further by calling on the UK to halt construction work at Hinkley Point C until the transboundary EIA has been finalised. Construction work at Hinkley Point has, however, continued with the pouring of the first safety-relevant concrete.
Finland – Olkiluoto 1,2
The aging reactors 1 and 2 at Olkiluoto have received a life-time extension without public participation or an EIA during the decision-making procedures. NGOs are considering legal options.
Espoo Convention – Meeting of Parties
During the Espoo Convention Meeting of Parties 13‒16 May 2017 in Minsk, Belarus, nuclear issues will receive prominent attention. Lithuania and Belarus are involved in an ingrained battle over the quality of the Astravetz EIA (see above). The NGO CEE Bankwatch is organising a side-event to highlight the lack of environmental impact assessment before decisions on life-time extension of nuclear projects in Ukraine, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Czech Republic and elsewhere. A special commission is to come with best practices around nuclear decisions, though draft documents do not address life-time extensions.