EU Greens Hail Belene Scrapping but Fight Not Over
By Kostis Geropoulos
The European Parliament's Greens Group hailed the Bulgarian government's decision to suspend the Belene nuclear power plant project on the banks of the River Danube, German MEP Rebecca Harms told New Europe in Strasbourg on 18 April. "I fought for this decision [to cancel Belene] since 10 years. I have been in Belene several times. I'm in close co-operation with the Greens and also the anti-nuclear environmental movement of Bulgaria and it was a very good day for us when this decision came," said Harms, who is co-chair of the EP Greens Group.
The cancellation of the Belene project is another blow to European nuclear power, further denting confidence in its safety and cost effectiveness, especially after the Fukushina nuclear disaster in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami. "To continue after Fukushima with plans to construct nuclear power plants in earthquake regions is foolish. Bulgaria for several reasons, especially because they could not find invest investors, scrapped this plan for Belene," Harms said, adding that she hopes that other nuclear options in the Balkan country will also fail. She noted that Bulgaria needs to increase efficiency and stop wasting energy.
But a day earlier in Bulgaria, four pro-nuclear organisations came up with a declaration against the suspension of the Belene NPP project.
The Bulgarian Atomic Forum (Bulatom), the Bulgarian Nuclear Society, the Committee for Protection of Belene and the Women in Nuclear Association sent on 17 April a declaration to President Rosen Plevneliev, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Parliament Chair Tsetska Tsacheva, insisting on holding a broad public discussion of the impact of the decision to terminate the Belene project.
According to the statement, the decision to install the reactor earmarked for the Belene NPP on the site of the Kozloduy NPP contradicts the latest concepts of nuclear safety and costlier. The four groups argue that the breakdown of the reactors at Fukushima led to the conclusion that the concentration of too much nuclear generating capacity on one site must be avoided, especially if there are repositories for spent nuclear fuel there.
The experts claim that the existence of already built infrastructure at the Kozloduy NPP plant is a disadvantage rather than an advantage. What is more, some of the facilities for the new unit must be built from scratch". "The site of the Belene NPP project has already been tested and licensed, while the Kozloduy NPP site will have to undergo thorough testing and secure a license anew," the statement read.
Meanwhile, in the town of Belene, local citizens organised a protest to declare their determination, a year after the Fukushima disaster, to have a nuclear plant - even in an earthquake zone. The Bulgarian Socialist Party announced the first thing it would do in power would be to revive the project.