Largest ever protest against EBRD: No money for K2/R4

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 18, 1998) December 14 was an International Day of Protest. A coalition of 60 organizations from all over the world protested against the proposal by the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) to provide a loan for the completion of two nuclear power plants at Khmelnitsky and Rivne in the Ukraine.

(504.4960) WISE Amsterdam - The participating organizations on this Day of Protest demanded that the EBRD stop funding the K2/R4 project, which poses a grave danger to the environment and peoples of Europe. The campaign had already been going on for years, and the EBRD had been put under enormous pressure.

Serious concerns regarding the safety, economic costs and public participation in the environmental-impact assessment process of the project have been raised. These concerns have led many experts to conclude that the project represent such safety and financial risks that these reactors should not be completed. The EBRD has been considering the loan for years already but so far seems hesitant to come up with the loan, as the project fails to meet many of the criteria the bank has formulated for such projects. In 1997, an independent panel in a study asked for by the EBRD concluded that K2/R4 does not meet the EBRD economic criteria, in the sense that the project is not economic in terms of rate of return and least cost solution for the problem of energy supply, and that therefore the completion of these reactors would not be economically sound.

On these pages were reports from some actions that took place all over the world. There were activities in some 34 countries, and what follows is only a small selection. This action day was not the end--there were still a few months to put pressure on your country's representative to the EBRD. Let the reports inspire you to do more!!

Source and contact: A SEED Europe, PO Box 92066, 1090 AB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Tel: +31-20-668 2236; Fax: +31-20-665 0166
For an overview of many more actions:
(also in French, Spanish and Japanese)

A group of 45 protesters from A SEED Europe and Reclaim the Streets (RTS) London sealed off the headquarters of the EBRD in London. The area around the building was designated as a radioactively contaminated site, off limits for the public. Dressed in white protective gear and wearing dustcaps the activists tried to check every person leaving the bank on radioactive radiation. Two huge banners (reading "stop K2R4 no more chernobyls' and 'no EBRD money for nuclear reactors') were unrolled in front of the office but a third banner was unfortunately confiscated when some protesters climbed in a pole to hang it there. Activists from RTS climbed on the huge statue of a lying fat lady in front of the EBRD office and managed to unroll another banner reading 'Dirty Money' followed by 'there is no peaceful atom' in Russian ("mirnym atom ne byvaet"). They managed to sat on the statue for more than two hours. Things got really exciting when two three metre high giant radioactive mutants entered the stage, harrasing peaceful bankers heading off for lunch. After a die inn, leaving all protesters 'dead' in front of the entrance, and short speeches from Johan Frijns (ASEED) and Yury Urbanski (National Ecological centre of Ukraine), the action was finished. Over 1500 leaflets were distributed to the people working in the EBRD and surrounding offices, no arrests were made.

More than 250 local e-mail addresses in Albania received information on the campaign (translated in Albanian). A poster was sticked aside to the EBRD office main door, in Tirana. By a phone call the vice chairman of the Albanian Parliamentary Commission for Health and Environment had contact with the campaigners. A meeting with Mr. D. Mishaxhi of the local EBRD office in Tirana took place. A delegation of two persons approached him. He was shown parts from the 59 reasons why this loan is not suitable to be given. Mr. Mishaxhi promised to transfer the concernes to the EBRD Headquarters. The campaigners delivered several times the model letter to the whole EBRD e-mail list. At the mean time this letter was faxed to the Board Director who cover Albania (Mr. Bielecki). Both Mr. Bielecki and Mr. Kabaktchiev were reached by phone. Unfortunately, they were not present in their office, but a message was left on their answering machine. Finally only one feed back reply was received from the EBRD board directors, more precisely Mr.Patrice Muller (Executive Director for Canada and Morocco).
Contact: AQUARIUS, Rr Ali Demi; P 249; Shk. 5; Ap 70
P.O.Box 7452, Tirana-Albania
Tel/Fax: +355-42-71435

Friends of the Earth Australia has written to Mr Short, Australia's representative at the EBRD in London, and to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, asking them to vote against the EBRD funding the reactors completion, on the grounds that completion would be a waste of money and would increase the risks of nuclear disaster in Eastern Europe.

"If Australia votes on the EBRD for the completion of R4K2, it will help to cement the terrible environmental reputation that we have gotten, with our stance on greenhouse emissions, and our dismissal of the likes of UNESCO and IUCN as 'environmental extremists' for wanting to list Kakadu as in
danger. R4K2 is another ugly manifestation of the same nuclear fuel cycle of which Jabiluka is the 'front end'."
Source and contact: Friends of the Earth Sydney, Suite 15, 1st Floor, 104 Bathurst Street, Sydney, NSW, 2000.
Tel: +61-2-9283-2006; Fax: +61-2-9283-2005

A delegation of Belgian NGOs and political organizations delivered a protest letter with enclosed file to the federal
minister of finance, Mr. Viseur. A child's drawing which was handed to the minister shows how this subject also affects the youngsters.
In the letter the minister and the Belgian representative in the EBRD Bernard Snoy are asked not to approve the K2/R4. The minister could not receive the delegation but promised to study the file; possibly a meeting will follow at the beginning of 1999. Cabinet cooperator Bernard Delbecque said he would deal with this file personally, also he would contact the Belgian representative Snoy in London. Delbecque explained that the Belgian answer would depend on a decision taken in cooperation with other members of the Belgian government, though the main decisive point in this case lies in the European Commission. He warned that the Belgian Treasury Board was in favor of this loan of the EBRD.
Source and contact: Voor Moeder Aarde, Lange Steenstraat 16D,
B-9000 Gent.
Tel: +32-9-233 8439; Fax: +32-9-233 7302

The Czech Environmental NGOs Hnuti DUHA (Rainbow Movement) and the Energy Efficiency Program protested in front of the building which houses the EBRD branch office in Prague, by renaming the bank the "European Bank for Radiation Development", because it is the only multilateral development bank which still supports nuclear energy projects. The protesters also delivered a letter to bank officers urging the EBRD to deny funding for the project.
Milos Kuzvart, Czech Minister of Environment, officially requested that Ukraine provide the Czech Environment Ministry with environmental assessment documentation for the project and to allow citizens of the Czech Republic to participate in the EIA process for K2/R4. Ukraine has ignored this request so far.
Source and contact: Hnuti DUHA, see WISE-BRNO: E-mail:
Tel: 29 09 09, 24 91 91 87,

A small report of the K2R4 public hearing and the action on Friday 11th: First of all, due to the lack of organization from the Ministry's part, not many people participated at the hearing itself. The night before, a long list of questions was collected to ask from the Energoatom's representatives. The general impression was that Ukrain's basic attitude was: it is a Ukrain project, to be built according to Ukrainian standards, no foreigners should interfere. The EBRD and the Hungarian ministry were only there as observers. Outside, the sight was pretty impressive: 20 black barrels, each signed with a name of an East European NPP, a 16 metres long banner saying: EBRD BankATOMata, and a half-blackened Christmas tree, with nuclear signs and black ribbons as decoration. Flyers were spread and Christmas candies signed with the radiation sign on the wrapping. Signatures were also collected which will be faxed to the EBRD. The collection was successful: several hundred people signed in just a few hours. Many were suprised to hear about these NPPs and asked why they weren't informed before - and they were told it was the ministry's fault, not doing their job properly!
Contact: Energy Club, PF 411, 1519 Budapest, Hungary
Tel: +36-1-209-5624;

At Hibiya park, Tokyo, where most of the administrative buildings of the Japanese government are located, the main action of A SEED Japan named DICE, "Direct Insistence on Conservative Energy", was held. The action targeted many public servants who walk through the area for their lunch. We sang antinuclear songs and "fake news" as if a nuclear reactor called R4 (or K2), had an accident more terrible than Chernobyl!
Thousands of businessmen and government officials passed through the street, and DICE members actively distributed many sheets of detailed leaflet about the problem of K2/R4. Four men in black suits representing E, B, R and D, and a skeleton man brought about two dice to the EBRD. These two dice were fully labelled "Reactor accident [has] occurred!!" which were copied
from newspaper clippings about the Chernobyl accident 12 years ago.
Source and contact: A SEED Japan

In the weeks leading up to the protest, several petitions had been circulating to collect signatures in protest of the K2/R4 projects. Approximately 500 signatures were presented to EBRD representatives in Chisinau, Moldova. A public demonstration was also organised in front of the EBRD building. Radio, television and print media attended the protest and were quite active, conducting many interviews. Protestors donned white lab coats and gas masks, played guitar, and carried around protest signs. Demonstrators could be heard yelling "Stop K2/R4:stop financing of K2/R4: say no to new Chernobyl: there are 59 reasons against financing K2/R4." Demonstrators and media went directly to the EBRD office and presented a copy of A SEED Europe's "59 Reasons Against Completion of K2/R4" to an analyst with EBRD. E-mail messages were sent to all the EBRD e-mail addresses. Before leaving the protest site, "stop K2/R4" signs were taped to the front of the building. The EBRD analyst was polite and responsive and said he'd forward this information to EBRD in London. The analyst also said that he was already aware of the international protest and that he is taking it serious.
Contact: Chisinau Branch of the Environmental Movement of Moldova;

Activists from several organizations (A Seed, Both Ends and WISE International) demonstrated in front of the Minstry of Financial Affairs. The activists were dressed in white radiation suits, and carried a banner saying "Geen cent voor Tsjernobyl 2" (Not a single cent for a second Chernobyl). A woman with artificial radiation injuries in her face and a malformed baby in her baby carriage played recordings of radio news bulletins from right after the Chernobyl disaster: "Radioactive pollution detected in Sweden, The Netherlands, US, don't eat spinach any more, keep children indoors, cows will be moved in the stables, but there is no danger for public health." At the same time, the demonstrators installed a laundry line to hang out 75 arguments against K2/R4 in bright colors. After 15 minutes, Jos de Vries, the vice director of the ministry's department for foreign financial relations, came out to listen to our speech. He received a copy of the 75 arguments, and an energy saving light bulb as an alternative for constructing new power plants. In his reaction he said it was very probable that the Dutch director at the EBRD would vote against the K2/R4 project. He estimated it was very unlikely that the Khmelnitsky 2 and Rivne 4 project would be able to fulfill the EBRD criteria.
Source and Contact: WISE International

Green Federation - Warsaw, and the Polish Ecological Club (FoE Poland) organised a happening in front of the EBRD office in Warsaw. first the contract between politicians was symbollically signed, than the NPP was built which afterwards blew up. All victims of the explosion looked really bad and were treated with this special liquid called "lugola". It was something people received 12 years ago after the
Chernobyl catastrophy, which was supposed to help from being contaminated and ill. Public was also offered the liquid saying: "Do you still remember that taste" (by the way the taste is really horrible, people still remember it after those 12 years). A huge banner was used and postcards handed out to be sent to the EBRD. EBRD representative were asked to come, but they didn't, so people went up to leave a petition in the office.
Contact: Magda Stoczkiewicz of CEE Bankwatch Network Polish Coordinator, Polish Ecological Club, FoE Poland, ul. Slawkowska 26A, 31-014 Krakow, Poland
Tel: +48 12 423 20 47 ; Tel/fax: +48 12 423 20 98

Ecologistas en Acción (Ecologists in Action), located in Madrid, took action by sending a letter to D. Joaquin de la Infiesta, the spanish representative at the EBRD. Ecologistas en Acción also protested at the Ukrainian embasy in Madrid and presented a protest letter to the Ukraine Ambassador demanding the interruption of the nuclear project.
Source and contact: Ecologistas en Acción, Marques de Legares 12, E-28004 Madrid.
Tel: +34-91-531 22739; Fax: +34-91-531 2611

The action that took place in Kiev (motto: Nuclear gambling - To be or not to be), near the head office of the EBRD, was organized by the Rainbow Keepers and activists of eight organizations (Ecozakhyst, MAMA-86, Socio-Ecological Union, Greenpeace, Zeleniy Svit, Foundation of children defence from Chernobyl disaster, anarchy initiative Tigra Nigra, IIEC).
They put a six-meter-high banner in front of the EBRD office and presented the bank executives a nuclear plant made from ice. The melting plant reminded all onlookers of the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986, and was a warning about what can happen with K2/R4. The banners expressed popular discontent with the construction of the two reactors, which are deemed unnecessary and dangerous. "EBRD stop R4/K2" was written around the radiation sign on a huge black triangular banner. Media coverage was rather good with four major television crews, representatives of the major Ukrainian newspapers and international press agencies AP, EPA and Interfax. The event lasted for a few hours and was, for once, not interrupted by the police.
Source and Contact: Rainbow Keepers
Tel: +380-44-550 6068

In Rivne 30 people joined the action in the town center. A big yellow banner with the K2/R4 logo was put up in front of the theater building. There was a theater show during the action with some people in black clothes and "EBRD" written on the back. As there is no EBRD office in Rivne, the action was used to inform the public wich responded positively: more than 3,500 signatures against K2/R4 project were collected to back up a petition. Some e-mails, faxes and 350 postcards were sent to the EBRD office in London. There was good media coverage.
Source and Contact: Ecoclub, Rivne,

More than 80 environmental and consumer organizations sent a letter to President Clinton and to the US representative on the bank urging the bank to stop funding for K2/R4.

The Clinton administration has supported construction of the new reactors as the price to pay for a permanent shutdown of the two remaining operable Chernobyl atomic reactors. But environmentalists and critics throughout Europe--and now the United States--have pointed out severe safety shortcomings in these "new", but Soviet-designed reactors.
The coalition of environmental organizations agrees with President Clinton that permanently closing Chernobyl is of paramount importance. The coalition said: " There is little reason to believe that Ukraine will keep its promise to close Chernobyl if K/2 and R/4 are built. After all, what other nation would keep Chernobyl running at all? Further, it makes precious little sense to build two new unsafe reactors in highly populated regions to replace two unsafe reactors in an abandoned region. And K2/R4 are decidedly unsafe. Neither could be licensed in the US, or anywhere in the West."

Source and contact: NIRS, Nuclear Information and Resource Service. 1424, 16th Street NW, #404, Washington, DC 20036
Tel: +1-202-328-0002; Fax: +1-202-462-2183.


Kohler visits Ukraine

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

On December 11, EBRD President Horst Kohler met with President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma. During their encounter the Ukrainian president reaffirmed his desire to close the Chernobyl plant as soon as possible.

Later that day Kohler had a meeting with the representatives of several Ukrainian environmental NGOs to discuss the R4/K2 project. Apparently Kohler was surprised by some of the facts: namely, that there was no technical assessment of the project, that the way the environmental assessment was held violates Ukrainian and international legislation, and that geological conditions are extremely dangerous. And although Ukraine expects the R4/K2 reactors to replace Chernobyl by the year 2000, there is still no legislative base for that. Moreover, the law "Particularities about the operation of Chernobyl" affirms that there should be a five-year delay between the governmental decision to close the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and its actual closure. Therefore, Chernobyl cannot be closed in the year 2000.

Kohler explained that he wants to take account of both the wishes of the Ukrainian government and the G7 regarding the implementation of the project, and the wider public opposition. In these circumstances he feels trapped because for him the principal object is to close Chernobyl, and he would exert any effort to see that it be done, even if that means that the EBRD will have to finance two new reactors to replace Chernobyl.

Source: Email Rainbow Keepers, 15 December, and EBRD press release, 14 December 1998


Related Pictures

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Skeleton Man at Hibiya Park


Skeleton Man with Dice labelled 'Reactor accident [has] occurred!!


Protest at Hibiya Park Tokyo


Hibiya Park Tokyo

Rivne Town Center

town center

Big Yellow Banner with K2/R4

Big Yellow