MEPs ask Slovakia to delay new nuclear plant

EU Parliament calls for Mochovce commissioning to be delayed pending safety review

The European Parliament has called on Slovakia to postpone the opening of a new Soviet-designed nuclear power station just weeks before it is due to go on-line. MEPs voiced concern over Slovakia's plan to start up the Mochovce power plant on 21 July "even though there are still considerable doubts about its safety".

In a resolution drawn up by a cross-party group of parliamentarians, MEPs reminded Slovakia of its ambitions to join the EU and warned: "In the run-up to enlargement there must in no circumstances be any relaxation of nuclear safety standards."

Following a bilateral agreement signed in April between Slovakia and its closest EU neighbour, Austria, an international team of experts is currently inspecting the power plant which lies just 120 kilometres from the Austrian border. It is due to finalise its report next week.

The European Parliament calls on Slovakia to postpone the start-up of Mochovce "until any safety problems which the expert panel may identify have been resolved". Concerns centre around the fact that Mochovce has no secondary containment system - an extra concrete shell around the reactor - and a lack of clear plans for the storage of nuclear waste.

It is unclear how the Slovakian government will react to the parliament's request. According to one EU energy expert, the resolution "puts the Slovakian government in quite a difficult position. As a player in the accession negotiations, upsetting the European Parliament is not a very good idea."

Slovakia is one of 11 countries currently being considered for membership of the EU and MEPs are hoping the enlargement process will encourage countries in central and eastern Europe to improve safety standards at their nuclear plants. The resolution warns Slovakia: "Compliance with safety standards for nuclear power plants of the EU member states is part of the 'acquis communautaire' [the body of existing EU law that new members must incorporate into their own law]".

But an official at the European Commission told ENDS Daily that there was no pan-EU standard on nuclear plant safety for the new countries to follow. "It is quite clear - there are no existing legally binding standards for nuclear power plants in the EU," he said.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111.

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