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Bridging the Gap Between Intellectual Excellence and Civic Initiatives

Event: K2/R4 Demonstration, Petition and Presence at Public Hearings

During 1998, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) began to consider whether to financially support the completion of the K2 and R4 nuclear power reactors in Hkmelnicky and Rovno, Ukraine. According to antinuclear organizations, such as the US Nuclear Information Resource Service (NIRS), there are several problems with the project, including technological, social, and economic issues, as well as energy rationale and deficiencies in the public participation process. Activists report that what little public consultations have been done have genereated consensus against construction of the reactors.

 [ fuse ] On December 11, 1998, the Energy Klub of Budapest organized a demonstration and petition signing at the site of the public hearings. Many Hungarians were unaware of the project, and vigorously opposed it when informed. Over 300 signatures against const ruction were collected and sent to the EBRD.

I attended two hours of pubic hearing for the project. Questions regarding the safety of VVER 1000 type reactors, details of impact assessments, and transboundary effects of unancitipated technical malfunctions were met with evasive answers. The publi c was told that such concerns would be addressed completely after EBRD funding was secured.

" We guarantee [in the case of an accident at K2/R4] that there would be no transboundary effects... "

- EBRD Representatives and Public Hearing Panelists, December 11, 1998

Petition Letter:

The following letter to President Clinton is the U.S. participation in this international day of protest. We will deliver it to the White House on December 14, and issue a news release about it and the issue. We hope that you will be able to sign on to th is letter....

Thank you!
Michael Mariotte

 [ stop! ] December 14, 1998

Hon. William Jefferson Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20000

Dear President Clinton:

The undersigned U.S. environmental and citizens' groups are writing to you to urge you to oppose western funding, through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, for the proposed new K2/R4 reactors in Ukraine. We strongly oppose the completi on of these unnecessary new reactors, and our opposition is shared by a vast majority of Ukrainians and NGOs throughout Europe, as the EBRD public consultation process has demonstrated. Although we fully agree with your goal of closing the Chernobyl nucle ar plant, we also strongly oppose the completion of K2/R4, on the grounds that they are both extremely unsafe and unnecessary.

As the end of the public consultation period for K2/R4 approaches and the EBRD will be making a decision on funding the project, we ask you to oppose EBRD funding of this unsafe and financially unsound project.

Nuclear power continues to create environmental and safety threats throughout Europe and the world. In Eastern Europe especially, nuclear power continues to be relied on heavily, in a region where safety standards and quality of equipment are generally l ower than they are in Western Europe. We are very concerned that the expansion of nuclear power in Eastern Europe will only compound these problems. In addition, we would like to point out that the money for K2/R4 would be much more wisely spent on energ y efficiency and renewable energy projects, as well as upgrades of currently operating power plants, as originally recommended by a distinguished international advisory panel, including U.S. experts Peter Bradford and David Freeman.

Ukraine and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe are at a crossroads in terms of power generation. Part of the legacy from the old Soviet regime is heavy reliance on nuclear power and the use of obsolete and unsafe reactor design types. These rea ctors, including the VVER 1000 type used at K2 and R4, have been identified by the IAEA as having serious and fundamental safety flaws that are not entirely correctable. In important respects, these reactors cannot meet internationally accepted safety st andards and could not be licensed in the United States.

 [ flyer ] Ukraine has suffered enough under government policies that aggressively promote the use of nuclear power, without regard to international safety standards, or indeed to the human costs of nuclear accidents. The Ukrainian people have spoken: They do not wa nt yet another unsafe and expensive nuclear project which continues to risk their health and environment.

Our understanding is that the Administration believes that permanently closing Chernobyl is the most important issue here, and that if helping Ukraine build new reactors is the price to close Chernobyl, we should provide that assistance. We appreciate and agree with your insistence on closing Chernobyl. But building new unsafe reactors to replace old unsafe reactors is not much of an improvement. Rather, the United States and the international community must do everything it can to assist Ukraine in attai ning a sound non-nuclear energy future. Ukraine has the necessary energy resources to accomplish this goal, and the U.S. and EBRD should concentrate its efforts on this.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter and we look forward to hearing from you soon regarding your position on this urgent issue.


Cc: Vice President Al Gore
Karen Shepherd, EBRD

Update on EBRD K2/R4 Descision:

On January 5, 1999, the EBRD wrote:

- K2R4 Project Secretariat

More updates will be posted as they become available. This page was written with contributions from NIRS: nirsnet@igc.org, the Energy Klub of Budapest, the Budapest public hearing, and electronic newsletters from green organizations ZHABA/HUMUSZ/ANPED.

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