Europe’s costly mess about burying the dead nuclear reactors
Auditors criticise decommissioning of nuclear reactors in Eastern Europe European Energy Review, By Hughes Belin, 24 Feb 12 The European Court of Auditors (ECA), which checks the management of EU money, has published a highly critical report on the management of the EU’s financial assistance for the decommissioning of eight nuclear reactors in Bulgaria (Kozloduy), Lithuania (Ignalina) and Slovakia (Bohunice).
As one “Green” member of the European Parliament puts it, the ECA’s report shows ‘the enormous hidden costs of nuclear energy’.
The ECA’s audit, which covers the implementation of the decommissioning programmes in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Lithuania from 1999 until the end of 2010, concludes that after €2.85bn has been committed to this from the EU budget, ‘we have no idea where we are in the implementation of the programmes’, as ECA officials said.
The programmes support a number of measures to mitigate the effects of the loss of nuclear power generation subsequent to the plants’ early closure, as agreed with the EU during accession negotiations. …….
a lot of EU money was thrown at Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia without real strategy and monitoring.
Weak management practices
The ECA s officials do not speak of fraud or leakage of EU money, but rather ‘weak management practices’ from the Commission’s energy department. They propose a series of ‘corrective actions’ to make the EU expenditure worthwhile, not least establishing a genuine strategy and allocating responsibilities within a robust monitoring framework. …. he authorities in Brussels generally seem inclined to play down the report. ‘We’re not here to make a scandal’, Fazakas told EER, but rather ‘to look at improvements to be carried out, should any EU funds be earmarked for the same purpose in the next EU multiannual budget’.
That’s exactly the line of the Commission: ‘The report will support the work of the Commission in The ECA reports poor value for EU money on every one of these issues so faraddressing future decommissioning challenges.’ These include: creating efficient national decommissioning organisations, dismantling the essential parts of reactors, and treating waste from decommissioning - all in accordance with a detailed plan. The ECA reports poor value for EU money on every one of these issues so far.
From the report it is clear that a thorough inventory of radioactive waste - a sine qua non condition for setting up a proper decommissioning plan - has not yet been made in Lithuania and Bulgaria. Nor have proper storage and disposal facilities, regarded as ‘key infrastructures’ by the ECA, been prepared yet.
….. On top of everything else, the ECA report warns that ‘the absence of sufficient funding arrangements puts the completion of the decommissioning processes at risk’. Indeed, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia want more money: in March 2011 they estimated that €2.5bn is missing to complete their programmes. …. Rebecca Harms, a German Green MEP, says the ECA’s report ‘underlines the enormous hidden costs of nuclear energy’. Slovakia has implemented a tax on power transmission to raise new money for decommissioning, but Bulgaria and Lithuania have no plans to raise funds themselves.Eur
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