You are here

Agenda 2000: New Member-States and Nuclear Safety

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#493-494
Special: Agenda 2000: Will it increase nuclear safety in Eastern Europe?
19/06/1998
Article

(June 19, 1998) In July 1997 the European Commission released `Agenda 2000' which laid out its proposals for the enlargement of the European Union in the coming 10 to 20 years. Agenda 2000 proposes that the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Cyprus should fall within the `first wave' of new countries joining the Union. The other accession countries - Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia - would also begin negotiations but are expected to take longer and would form the `second wave'.

Against the background of that accession process in which the EU would grow with 10 Central and Eastern European countries, the European Union now has to consider the situation of nuclear safety in those countries more seriously than before. The Commission formulates it this way: "The aim is the establishment of an efficient, sustainable and market-oriented energy sector, well suited to the individual country's needs".4

Some of the industrial processes that damaged the environment - the Soviet-designed nuclear power plants - continue to operate today. Even today, more than 12 years after the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, there are 50 Soviet-designed reactors of various designs and differing safety standards operating in CEE countries and in the NIS. (For different types and design deficiencies click here to read about the safety of soviet-designed nuclear reactor types) The enlargement of the Union should be seen as both an opportunity to bring about the early closure of nuclear reactors and acceleration of the implementation of measures and policies which reduce damage to the environment, such as energy efficiency and renewable energy systems.
Only in East Germany have Soviet-designed reactors been assessed for inclusion into the European Union. There, five reactors were in operation at Greifswald, four VVER 440-230s and one VVER 440-213. In addition, three VVER 440-213s were also under construction at Greifswald and another two VVER 1000-320s at Stendal. In 1990, following reunification, all the reactors were temporarily closed and construction suspended to allow detailed analysis of the generic safety problems of reactors, along with the individual problems that each specific reactor posed. As a result, the first four reactors (the oldest VVERs) at Greifswald were permanently closed.
The German safety agency, Gesellschaft fuer Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) then put forward detailed technical proposals for Greifswald 5 (the VVER 440-213) and Stendal, should these reactors be awarded an operating or construction license. Consequently, these reactors were abandoned as the utility felt it was not economic for them to attempt to bring them up to German safety standards. At Greifswald the upgrading of a 213 model reactor (a second generation VVER), which had just become operational, was expected to amount to between DM500 million and DM2 billion (1991 equivalent - US$277 - 1.100 million). While at Stendal, for the completion of one VVER 1000-320 reactor, it was estimated that it would cost US$2.3billion to US$2.9 billion (1992 equivalent).5
The outcome of that process should be seen as the benchmark for nuclear safety for those countries wishing to enter the European Union.
As well as problems with safety levels of reactors, the unification process highlights environmental problems associated with other areas of the nuclear fuel cycle. In particular, the residual problems with uranium mining, the proposals for the disposal of radioactive wastes and the lack of plans -technical and economic - for the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.
It is very likely that these problems would be experienced with the accession of CEE countries.

Nuclear Reactors in Accession Countries
 

Country Reactor Type
Bulgaria Kozloduy 1
Kozloduy 2
Kozloduy 3
Kozloduy 4
Kozloduy 5
Kozloduy 6
440-230
440-230
440-230
440-230
1000-320
1000-320
Czech Republic Dukovany 1
Dukovany 2
Dukovany 3
Dukovany 4
Temelin 1*
Temelin 2*
440-213
440-213
440-213
440-213
1000-320
1000-320
Hungary Paks 1
Paks 2
Paks 3
Paks 4
440-213
440-213
440-213
440-213
Lithuania Ignalina 1
Ignalina 2
RBMK 1500
RBMK 1500
Romania Cernovoda 1
Cernovoda 2*
Candu
Candu
Slovakia Bohunice V1-1
Bohunice 2
Bohunice 3
Bohunice 4
Mochovce 1
Mochovce 2*
440-230
440-230
440-213
440-213
440-213
440-213
Slovenia Krsko Westinghouse
PWR 640

* Under construction