EU finances Ukrainian nuclear reactors

Commission approves controversial loan to replace the last operable reactor at Chernobyl.

The European Commission approved a loan of USD 585 million to the Ukrainian National Nuclear Power Company Energoatom on 13 December. The loan is to part finance a project for the completion, modernisation and commissioning of unit 2 at Khmelnitsky and unit 4 at Rivne nuclear power plants in Ukraine, which are to replace the last operable reactor at Chernobyl.

The project will provide Ukraine with replacement power from two nuclear units of the VVER 1000 type upgraded to a safety level acceptable under Western-type licensing practices. The project also includes an environmental action plan, based on an environmental impact assessment, which has already been completed.

FORATOM, the trade association for the nuclear industry in Europe, called the decision “a major breakthrough, offering Ukraine the chance to build a stable energy future”.

The Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament criticised the decision, saying the Commission tried “to cover its tracks on this totally unjustified and purely political decision”. MEP Heidi Hautala, Co-President of the Green/EFA Group, asked: “How does the Commission think it is going to improve nuclear safety in Ukraine by completing 2 more Soviet reactors […] in a country which suffered the world’s worst ever nuclear accident, Chernobyl?”

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