(February 16, 2001) The decision by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to approve a loan for completion of the Ukrainian reactors Khmelnitsky-2 and Rivne-4 (K2/R4) was a setback for campaigners against nukes in Eastern Europe, but the battle to stop these projects is not over yet by any means.
(543.5249) WISE Amsterdam - Although the EBRD approved the loan for the completion of K2/R4 replacement reactors last year (see WISE News Communique 540.5226: "EBRD approves K2R4 loan - campaign continues") the money itself will only be disbursed after Ukraine fulfils a series of conditions:
- Full enhancement of the safety, not only of K2/R4 but also of all the other 13 nuclear facilities owned by Energoatom,
- Full implementation of reforms of the electricity sector (particularly privatization of the distribution sector),
- Increase in cash collection
- A report by a body of international nuclear regulators that their Ukrainian counterpart meets the necessary criteria on independence and has the resources to assure operations of all nuclear facilities according to "western safety standards"
As the Ukraine falls more and more into a deep political crisis with President Kuchma allegedly being involved in the murder on a journalist its highly unclear whether the country will ever meet the criteria. On the other hand the EBRD really seems to like the Kuchma government; the bank has increased its operations in the Ukraine which could exceed 500 million Euros this year.
Meanwhile the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the K2 reactor has been conducted, while the EIA for R4 is expected to start later. According to Bankwatch the government has a strange way of dealing with the EIA. Up till now the only participation invited from the NGO's was a letter in which the government asks the following question: Does your organization support completion of new nuclear units at Khmelnitsky and Rivne NPP's? Most probably a 'no' will lead to the NGO not being invited to any further public steps to be taken in the EIA...
Bankwatch, in collaboration with local and national NGO's in the Ukraine will try to prove that the Ukraine does not meet the required criteria. But the NGO's are facing bad working conditions; it is hard to make clear that the whole public participation process is a complete farce when working under conditions of repression and a failing government. Besides the demands that the government make the EIA documents public and organize sufficient public consultations, the Bankwatch network is at the same time preparing legal steps against the authorities responsible for the whole process towards a final decision on the future of K2/R4. The network is trying to provide evidence that the documents be needed for an EIA process simply do not exist - if they lose this case they can at least demand that the documents be published.
International or non-Ukrainian NGO's can support the Bankwatch campaign by addressing the Ukrainian government that they should open the EIA process not only to the own citizens but also accept foreign involvement, as required under the Espoo convention.
Source and contact: Olexi Pasyuk, International Energy Coordinator, CEE Bankwatch Network, PO Box #89, 01025, KIEV, Ukraine
Phone: + 380 44 2386260, Fax: + 380 44 2386259
Web site http://www.bankwatch.org