(November 2, 1998) The controversy over the proposed Khmelnitsky-2/Rovno-4 nuclear completion projects in Ukraine is heating up. On September 30, an open letter signed by representatives from 44 non-governmental organizations in 17 countries in Central and Eastern Europe was sent to EBRD President Horst Koehler.
(501.4944) Bankwatch - The letter to EBRD President Koehler points out that K2/R4's project sponsors have not complied with important EBRD environmental and public consultation procedures. Further, it calls for Koehler to suspend the public consultation period until such time as the sponsors have fully complied with these procedures and addressed other grievances enumerated in the letter. At a minimum, it suggests that the deadline for submission of comments on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) documentation be extended until January 19, 1999, taking into account the belated release of a key section of the EIA. The current deadline is December 15.
In the letter, the NGO representatives point out serious problems with public access to documentation, as well as errors and omissions in the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for the projects. For example, the EIA section regarding non-nuclear alternatives to the projects was not made publicly available until a full month after the beginning of the public consultation process, effectively shortening by one-third the time available for the public to comment on the documentation. This addendum discusses only the operation of coal power plants and does not consider measures to increase energy efficiency in Ukraine. Such energy efficiency alternatives could be based on the joint EBRD and World Bank Energy Efficiency Action Plan for Ukraine. The representatives also note that the project sponsors have ignored demands that public hearings be held in regional administrative centers in Ukraine, and that they have yet to provide concrete dates for public hearings. In addition, they point out that the Ukrainian government has refused to follow the requirements of the Espoo Convention, despite an obligation to do so under EBRD environmental procedures. (The text of the letter can be accessed on the internet at www.ecn.cz/k2r4/letter1)
In late September, Ukrainian President Kuchma said it did not need the EBRD loan: Russia would be willing to pay for the completion of the reactors. According to Kuchma, the EBRD is proposing unacceptable conditions on the loan. However, it is likely that this maneuver should increase the pressure on Western governments to go ahead with the loans.
Meanwhile, opposition groups have chosen December 14 as International Day of Protest against the planned EBRD financing
- Press release Bankwatch, 30 September 1998
- Nucleonics Week, 1 October 1998