PR:Residents oppose nuclear plant near Kaliningrad - opinion poll and update

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May 31, 2013

Residents oppose nuclear plant near Kaliningrad - opinion poll and update

OPINION POLL: 48% OPPOSED TO NUCLEAR PLANT IN KALININGRAD - In the absence of Western investment, Russian nuclear industry reconsider the project of nuclear plant in Kaliningrad region. According to local media reports, construction of the plant is frozen.

The result of latest public opinion poll on the construction of Baltic nuclear power plant near Kaliningrad, Russia, demonstrates the majority of local residents oppose new reactors. About 48% of Kaliningrad' residents are against construction of nuclear plant, while only 30% support it. Main reason for opposition is high risks for people and environment and the threat of new Chernobyl. Survey was conducted in May 15-21 by reputable Kaliningrad monitoring group, its results revealed today.

Earlier this week local media in Kaliningrad reported the construction of nuclear plant has been stopped, referring to several subcontractor companies which worked on-site. Last week Reuters and Interfax news-agencies reported, Russian state nuclear corporation "Rosatom" drop the plan to build two large nuclear reactors with total capacity of 2,3 GWt to export electricity to the European Union' countries. Instead, Russian nuclear industry is looking for smaller reactors established in Kaliningrad region, agencies said. However, "Rosatom" doesn't produce smaller reactors presently, except for highly controversial 40 MWt floating nuclear reactors. But this one would not be realistic for Kaliningrad region because the construction site is located far from marine coastal area.

"Rosatom" was desperately looking for investments from Europe during last three years but couldn't find any interest. No companies wanted to sign preliminary contracts to import future' electricity, no banks expressed an interest to fund the project so far. On the contrary, German Hypovereinsbank and French BNP Paribas informed environmental groups earlier they withdraw from Kaliningrad nuclear project. It is known that French bank Societe Generale is still studying the possibility to fund this project through a loan to Alstom company which would supply turbines for Kaliningrad. However, Alstom turbines are not needed anymore in case "Rosatom" is looking for smaller reactors or freezing this project.

Project of Baltiс nuclear plant in Kaliningrad region met public resistance since it was mentioned for the first time by local government in 2007. Construction has been advancing without proper engineering and geologic surveys, and the process of public consultation was conducted with various violations of democratic norms. There is lack of adequate radioactive waste treatment plan and emergency preparedness system on regional level. The assessment of heaviest possible nuclear accident in the project is underestimated while the Environmental Impact Assessment does not correspond with Russian legal norms.

"Construction of nuclear plant near Kaliningrad presents serious threat to the region. It is not only about risk of new Chernobyl, but about high-level radioactive waste which would stay in the region likely forever. Kaliningrad region have its electricity demand covered. So all this is just for the export of electricity to Europe, so nuclear industry can make some profit. That is cynical and immoral plan, it must be stopped", said Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman for Russian environmental group Ecodefense, campaigning against nuclear plant in Kaliningrad since 2007. "Ecodefense urge European energy companies and banks to refrain from participation in this project. Let it die in peace", Slivyak added.

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