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What needs to be done?

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

(June 19, 1998) The main conclusion should be that if it's up to the official policy of the European Union, it is very likely that Eastern Europe would remain a nuclear time-bomb, even after Agenda 2000.

But the conclusion should also be that the enlargement process of the EU offers opportunities to bring about the closure of the Eastern European nuclear reactors, or at least offers possibilities to strengthen the pressure for closure of those reactors.

A majority of 15 current EU members is de facto nuclear-free, or at least will become nuclear-free in the near future. With the exception of France, none of the EU countries has an active program for the increase of nuclear-power capacity. These countries should join power and discuss the end of EU support for nuclear energy (fission and fusion) not only in the CEE countries but also in the West.

Concretely this means:

Quick closure of High Risk Reactors; RBMK and VVER 440-230s:

  • Agreements on the early closure of all but the second reactor at Ignalina by the year 2000 have to be effectuated.
    To achieve this, the international community has to unite in their approach for energy lendings, and prioritize investments to enable the closure of these reactors.
  • VVER 440-213 and 1000-320: If is chosen for an upgrading program (in order to bring the concerned reactors up to a level of Western safety - a level which is not set, leaving the discussions in trouble; who is to set the standard?!), a reactor-by-reactor review of safety would appear the most appropriate method.

The proposals for upgrading the reactors in former East Germany offer a benchmark standard by which others must be measured. At least it should include:

  • Any retrofitting program should not be aimed at increasing the life of existing reactors.
  • Undertaking of a full Probabilistic Safety Assessment (PSA) of the reactors and of the proposed changes.
  • Analysis should include technical, environmental and economic assessments and allow full public scrutiny in possible effected countries in accordance with the principles laid down in the ESPOO convention.
  • Proposals for upgrading should be proven to be part of at least cost plan for the region.
  • Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community, should be dismantled or changed into an organization promoting safe energy.
  • The large amounts of money the European Union spends on nuclear fission and fusion R&D should be stopped and should be put into the development of a sustainable energy policy and energy efficiency.