Greenpeace says Belene nuclear plant the world's most dangerous-report

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bulgaria's planned nuclear power plant at Belene on the Danube River is amongst the most dangerous contemplated projects of its kind in the whole world, Greenpeace nuclear analyst Heinz Smital has said, as quoted by Deutsche Welle.

According to Smital's warning, Belene was massive and irresponsible gamble, which would only tarnish the reparation of RWE, the German company picked as the strategic investor in the nuclear power plant. Far worse, the German company was playing Russian roulette with people's lives in the entire region of South-Eastern Europe, he said.

Greenpeace has warned that just 12km from the planned construction site of the Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant, a massive earthquake took place back in 1977 which caused the death of over 120 people. The German federal agency for geophysics in Hannover has indicated that a similar tremour could be expected to strike the region in the very near future with intensity of 7.5 to 8.5 on the Richter scale, with potentially catastrophic consequences should the earthquake take out the already operational by then power plant.

Twelve large international banks, amongst them Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, have already distanced themselves from funding the project. Now Greenpeace is trying to exert pressure on RWE to also reconsider and abandon the high-risk project.

Belene's construction was initially planned all the way back in the 1980's. In 1992, construction was halted, including over the growing concerns over the security measures at the facility and the deterioration of the economic climate in communist Bulgaria. It was not until 2005 that the project was unfrozen.

The first of the two 1000MW reactors will begin work in January 2014. The construction will be a joint venture between the German-French nuclear consortium consisting of Siemens and Areva, subcontracted by Russia's Atomstroyexport, the manufacturer of the reactors.

The construction costs have been set at four billion euro but the total outlay on the project is expected to be closer to seven billion euro, if not more, given the rising global commodity prices.

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