Germany; coalition lost majority in Bundesrat.
After the May 9, elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right coalition may have trouble pushing through planned nuclear lifetime extensions. Both Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Free Democrat (FDP) allies lost heavily and were left short of their previous state majority, leaving the make-up of the next government unclear.
Merkel, whose coalition has a majority in parliament's Bundestag lower house, could now be blocked on many issues in the Bundesrat upper house, which represents the states. "The nuclear extension has become politically more difficult because the
majority in the Bundesrat has been lost," said an analyst at Merck Finck. If the nuclear life extension plan can go ahead without needing approval by the Bundesrat, Merkel's government could in theory ignore the North Rhine-Westphalia result and grant longer life cycles for the reactors. But a panel of legal experts advising the Bundestag said the upper house has to approve any agreement to extend the lifetime of nuclear plants. Opponents to this view say the original nuclear phase-out law did not need Bundesrat approval.
Reuters, 10 May 2010
India: Nuclear liability legislation introduced to parliament.
On May 7, the "Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill" was introduced to parliament after the Indian Government deferred the introduction at the last minute at March 15.
The legislation faces tough opposition in the Indian parliament, and it may not pass. Communist parties and the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who could not prevent the government from going ahead with the nuclear agreement in 2008, are vehemently opposing this bill, and together with some other parties have the numerical strength in the parliament to obstruct its passage. "This is an opposition for the sake of opposition," Arundhati Ghose, India's former permanent representative to the United Nations told World Nuclear News, "People who are opposing this bill are those who oppose nuclear energy all together." (So…?) The critics of the bill also allege that the government is putting a low price tag on human lives.
The bill is crucial to the operationalisation of the Indo-US nuclear deal. Critics say Inia is under no obligation to pass the bill, which , in reality, attempts to convert the liability of a foreign supplier to be paid by the Idian taxpayer. (More on the legislation in Nuclear Monitor 706, 26 March 2010; 'India: Profits for foreign investors, risks for taxpayers')
World Nuclear News, 7 May 2010 / Nuclear Monitor 607, 26 March 2010
Lithuania says official, decisive “no” to Belarusian nuclear power plant. The government of Lithuania expressed its official disapproval of a plan pushed by the neighbouring Belarus to build a nuclear power plant in the Belarusian town of Ostrovets, just 55 kilometres away from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. The former Soviet republic’s concerns were stated in an official note that was prepared by the Ministry of Environment and will be extended to Minsk, said the Lithuanian news agency DELFI.lt on May 8. Lithuania’s note of concern states, in particular, that Minsk has yet to deliver a comprehensive environmental impact evaluation report on the future NPP and asks that Belarusian officials hold a new hearing in Lithuania where such information may be made available to the public.
Both Lithuania and Belarus, two neighbouring nations that used to be part of the Soviet Union, are parties to the 1991 Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context – or the Espoo Convention, called so because it was signed in the Finnish town of Espoo. Since the new NPP is projected to be built just 23 kilometres off
the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, any harmful potential impact it may have will also affect the environment and well-being of the population of Lithuania. A bilateral discussion of the issue is thus a requisite procedure.
Bellona, 9 May 2010
Bulgaria halts nuclear plant project.
‘Prime Minister Boyko Borisov says Bulgaria has put on hold construction of its second nuclear power plant until it finds a new investor and funds to complete the project. "The country has no money for an atomic power plant," the DPA news agency cited Borisov as saying in the May 4 edition of the 24Casa newspaper. "We will build it when investors come." The Russian company Atomstroiexport had originally been commissioned to build the planned 2,000-megawatt Belene nuclear power plant on the Danube River - 180 kilometers (about 112 miles) northeast of the capital Sofia - for 4 billion euros. The contract had been signed between the Russian firm and previous Socialist-led Bulgarian government. When new center-right government swept power in July elections, Borisov's conservative GERB party put the Belene under review due to rising costs. It recently announced a tender for a new consultant after German utility RWE walked out of the project due to funding problems and Sofia decided to redesign it to attract new investors.’
Nuclear Reaction, 5 May 2010