Eastern European leaders slam nuke closure deals

Monday, May 26, 2008

The prime ministers of Lithuania and Slovakia have criticised deals struck by their governments with the EU before they joined the bloc to shut down aging Soviet-era nuclear power plants. International
pressure to cut carbon emissions and rising oil prices had revealed the move to be a mistake, they said.

Speaking at the second meeting of the European nuclear energy forum in Prague on Thursday, Slovakian leader Robert Fico described as "absurd" the agreements, which were made a condition for
the countries to join the EU, news agency AFP reported.

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek called for nuclear plants to be classed as low-or no-emission generation. "The share of nuclear power is continuing to fall as more plants are being closed down than being built," he said. The Czech republic was allowed to join the EU only after it agreed to submit its Temelen plant to a supplementary environmental impact assessment.

European commission president Jose Manuel Barroso told delegates the forum was contributing to an open EU debate on the role of nuclear. He listed the benefits for energy security and the fight against climate change of more nuclear generation, but insisted the commission was "not in the business of promoting nuclear energy, nor of advocating its use".

Environmentalists said the forum was being used to engineer a renaissance for the nuclear industry by lowering safety standards. "There is no chance that nuclear can revive without illegal state aid..the same amount of money spent on energy efficiency and renewables could much more effectively result in lower greenhouse gas emissions," said Hungarian group Energia Klub.

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