WRITTEN QUESTION No. 1488/98 by Hiltrud BREYER to the Commission. Mochovce

Official Journal C 354 , 19/11/1998 P. 0101

WRITTEN QUESTION E-1488/98 by Hiltrud Breyer (V) to the Commission (13 May 1998)

Subject: Mochovce

Is the Commission aware that in the former Czechoslovakia the highest executive posts in the nuclear industry were occupied by leading members of the Communist Party's civil service and people's militia? Is it also aware that the same people, who still occupy high executive posts (e.g. at Skoda), are now deliberately attempting to leave the population in ignorance of the dangers of the nuclear power station and irresponsibly concealing the seriousness of the situation?

The same people are currently trying engineer a fait accompli by bringing the first section of the Mochovce nuclear power station into operation in the summer, before the parliamentary elections, without carrying out the minimum prescribed adaptation measures.

What ways of intervening are open to the Commission? The building of the installation was, after all, only possible in the first place with the help of German and French loans (from the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau and the Société Générale) and guarantees from Hermes in Germany and Coface in France.

Is the Commission aware that in the case of the Greiswald nuclear power station, which was built in the same way using Soviet technology, more than 200 safety enhancement measures were prescribed by the Gesellschaft für Reaktorschutz (GRS - Reactor Protection Company), and that this catalogue of measures was reduced to 87 in the case of Mochovce? By the end of November 1997 only 24 of these had been implemented. In the negotiations between the Skoda executive, whose past was referred to above, the management of the Praha energy project and representatives of the Slovakian electric power company it has now been decided to dispense with a further series of safety measures in order to bring the power station into operation before the parliamentary elections. Can the Commission approve these actions?

Joint answer to Written Questions P-1465/98, E-1487/98, E-1488/98, E-1489/98, E-1490/98, E-1491/98, E-1492/98, E-1493/98 and E-1494/98 given by Mr Van den Broek on behalf of the Commission (5 June 1998)

The nuclear safety aspects of the programme to modernise the Mochovce power station were examined in 1994 by the independent consultants Riskaudit, a joint venture between the German and French nuclear safety authorities Gesellschaft für Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) and Institut de protection et de sureté nucléaire (IPSN), following a loan application to Euratom/the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development).

The Riskaudit survey provided an assurance that, providing the recommendations made were correctly and fully implemented, the Mochovce plant would be built, managed and operated in accordance with the same safety standards and practices applied in France and Germany.

The Riskaudit report concluded as follows: 'taking into account the existing situation at Mochovce and the implementation of approved measures proposed (...) it can be concluded that, on condition the IPSN-GRS recommendations are correctly and exhaustively dealt by the utility, the construction, management and operation of the plant will be in line with (...) Western safety requirements and practices.'

The Commission is well aware of the comments issued by the Austrian Government in 1994 concerning completion of the Mochovce nuclear power plants (NPP). The comments of the Austrian Government referred mainly to the safety analysis review performed by Riskaudit. At that time, the Austrian comments were analysed by Riskaudit and taken into consideration within the framework of the proposed Euratom and EBRD loan. After careful analysis, the conclusions were that no serious safety deficiencies remained in the 1994 modernisation projects if all the recommendations were taken into account by the plant.

In order to analyse the capability of the confinement (bubble condenser) of the VVER 440-213 type reactors a project is being implemented with Community funding under the PHARE programme of which the objective is the qualification by a combination of experimental tests and by analysis of the bubble condensers for this type of reactor. The results of this project will be submitted to the corresponding nuclear safety authorities, which will be assisted by Community technical safety organisations (also under PHARE assistance) in order to review them.

As the Slovak Republic did not pursue the loan application, the Commission has since only been involved in this project to a lesser extent. At present there is a project within the PHARE programme on licensing-related assessments of design and operations safety for the Mochovce NPP.

The Commission has included in the accession negotiations the request that the independence and competence of the Slovak nuclear safety regulator should be protected and enhanced. The Commission will follow this issue closely with a view to continuing to increase nuclear safety levels in the country.

The independent consultants Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) Technology investigated environmental protection concerns as part of the appraisal procedure for the Euratom/EBRD loan in 1994-95. They concluded that the approach followed with regard to radiation protection was up to international standards; the criteria for exposure to radiation both under normal operating conditions and in the event of an accident were in line with those applied in other European countries.

With regard to Bohunice A1, the Commission has funded a project which included activities aimed at safe decommissioning of the plant, such as a planning tool to improve radiological safety in decommissioning the A1 reactor, as well as studies to evaluate the different options for safe disposal of radioactive wastes.

The Accession Partnership includes, as a priority, that the nuclear safety authority be strengthened and that Slovakia implement a comprehensive long-term energy strategy based on efficiency and diversification which foresees alignment with and implementation of Community energy legislation, completion of the Mochovce nuclear power station according to internationally agreed safety principles and implementation of a realistic programme for the closure of the Bohunice plant. Implementation of the Accession Partnership will be closely monitored.