Two years ago, the Implementation Committee (IC) of the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context proposed an unprecedented measure concerning the lifetime extensions of two ageing nuclear reactors in Ukraine, Rivne 1 and 2. The committee demanded not only that transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are conducted for the two reactors, but that this rule applies to other cases of lifetime extensions as well. This would mean that up to thirty reactors reaching their expiry date by 2020 across Europe would have to undergo a comprehensive re-assessment including environmental and social assessments, consultations with neighbouring countries and analysis of alternatives. However, this proposal was then watered-down by the meeting of parties to the convention. The assembly likely back-paddled due to other European countries fearing the implications such a decision would have for their own plans to keep nuclear fleets running longer than originally intended. However, the consequence of not making a rule out of the Rivne precedent is that many other similar cases will be brought to the Espoo implementation committee individually. In fact, such cases already are beginning to pile up. Over the past two years Bankwatch has been warning against the authorisation of the prolonged operation of four more nuclear power units in Ukraine – in the power plants Zaporizhia and South Ukraine. In October the Espoo Convention’s IC has announced that it is opening information gathering processes for both cases. The move can be seen as an acknowledgement of repeated requests by Ukraine’s neighbours to be involved in the assessment and decision making on nuclear lifetime extensions in Ukraine. Should Ukraine again be found to have overlooked its obligations towards its European neighbours, it would deal a serious blow to the EU’s post-Maidan solidarity with Ukraine.
Bankwatch 8th Nov 2016 read more »