Nuclear report blasts Ukraine energy plan

Series Title
Series Details 20/02/97, Volume 3, Number 07
Publication Date 20/02/1997
Content Type

Date: 20/02/1997

By Mark Turner

THE European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) this week released a damning report which could spell doom for EU funding of Ukraine's nuclear programme.

But neither the bank nor the European Commission has endorsed its findings, which are extremely embarrassing for EU leaders.

The Union promised last year to part-fund the completion of two Soviet-designed reactors in Ukraine as part of a deal to close down Chernobyl by 2000. Although Ukraine had originally favoured conventional solutions, the West convinced it to complete the Khemelnitsky 2 and Rovno 4 reactors at a cost of around 1 billion ecu.

But EBRD rules demanded that “the project be subject to due diligence”, including proof that it was the cheapest solution to Ukraine's energy problems.

The report, which was compiled by a panel of independent experts, reaches the opposite conclusion, arguing that Ukraine already has 100&percent; surplus generating capacity.

Commission officials have refused to comment on its findings, saying: “It is still an incomplete report. The statistical annex which justifies its conclusion is not yet there.”

This was echoed by the EBRD, which said: “Comments on the panel's assumptions and conclusions can only be given once the full report has been received.”

This has fuelled concerns among environmentalists that the EU is attempting to salvage the deal despite the weight of evidence against it.

“I do not know what they are waiting for,” said Greenpeace International's nuclear campaign leader Antony Froggatt. “The report clearly states that the reactors are not 'least-cost'. That should be the end of the story.”

The Commission will decide on its position soon, after discussions with other G7 members.

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