European Commission in discussions on funding for Chernobyl-type reactor

Press release - 23 January, 2003

Greenpeace today criticised the European Commission's willingness to fund, through Euratom loans, the completion of a Chernobyl-type reactor in Russia as revealed in a Commission paper issued earlier this month in response to questions raised at the meeting of Financial Counsellors of Permanent Representations held on December 10th 2002. (1)

The Commission's paper states that there are ongoing discussions to assess the possibility of granting Euratom loans to enable completion of six partly built reactors in Russia. One of these reactors is the same type as the one involved in the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

"This is absolute madness," said Greenpeace campaigner John Bowler. "In the past the Commission itself has led the effort to have Chernobyl-type reactors closed and has stated on numerous occasions that this reactor-type, from a safety point of view, is not upgradable. The Commission has shown its hand now: Euratom loans and the proposed raising of the loans ceiling is not for safety it is for the expansion of nuclear power in eastern Europe. The Commission's credibility on nuclear safety has been completely destroyed."

Greenpeace opposes the Commission's proposal because the money will be used to subsidise a dying nuclear industry and will do nothing to prevent nuclear accidents. Contrary to what the Commission claims, the Euratom loans are about promoting nuclear power and has little if anything to do with nuclear safety.

"The Commission is out of control. It is rushing headlong to support the further development of the nuclear industry and this is contrary to the wishes of the majority of Member States and European citizens. Today's energy and environment conscious Europe is looking to clean renewable energy sources and not to an outdated, dangerous and dying nuclear industry," concluded Mr. Bowler.

The paper was produced to give more information to the Member States while they consider a Commission proposal to add 2 billion Euro to the Euratom loan facility. If approved by Member States, any decisions on the actual loans to be granted rests solely with the European Commission. Consequently, Member States must reject the proposed increase if they wish to stop additional Chernobyl style reactors from becoming operational.

Greenpeace is calling for EU governments to reject the Commission's proposal because if the funds are approved, nuclear risks will increase. More reactors, whose designs date back to the 1980s, will be completed and will operate for many years simply to maintain jobs in a decaying industry.

Notes: (1). The paper also shows that the Commission has been misleading in seeking an increase to the Euratom loan ceiling. In calculating the value of Euratom transactions the Commission has included approximately Euro 585 million allocated for the Khmelnitsky 2 and Rovno 4 reactors in Ukraine. A final decision on this loan has never been made and no transaction has taken place. A 1990 Council Decision states that when the value of transactions effected reaches EU 3800 million that the Commission should inform the Council. A new loan ceiling would then be discussed. Transactions to date, however, fall short of this figure and are in fact closer to Euro 3080 million. Therefore the current proposal to increase the Euratom loan ceiling, if not withdrawn, should be rejected by Council.A Briefing paper, prepared by European Energy consultant Antony Froggatt available at