Last week, the Dutch banking group ING told Greenpeace representatives that it has withdrawn financial support for the construction of the Mochvoce 3 and 4 nuclear reactors in Slovakia. ING took this step after it had received information from environmental organizations on the risks related to the Mochovce project.
According to a press release by the Slovak utility Slovenske Elektrarne (SE), ING was the lead bank that had coordinated a loan of 800 Million EURO from nine banks on October 23rd 2007 for the utility's investment program. Eighty-five percent of this investment program is destined to complete construction of the Mochovce 3 and 4 nuclear power stations. ING representatives said to Greenpeace: "ING will not invest a single EURO into this project." They promised that ING will neither invest through project loans, nor indirectly through corporate loans.
Greenpeace’s EU campaigner on nuclear energy, Jan Haverkamp says: "This decision is an important signal. The Mochovce project is amongst the worst nuclear projects in the pipeline in Europe. ING's refusal to finance it shows that Mochovce does not meet today’s social corporate responsibility standards."
The planned VVER 440/213 nuclear reactors received a building permit from the Czech communist authorities in 1986. Although construction was halted in 1994, the permit was prolonged. In 2004, the Slovak government then decided it wanted to see Mochovce 3 and 4 finished. It took this up in its negotiations with the Italian utility, ENEL, who bought 51% of SE’s shares and is now the majority owner of the Slovak utlity.
The Mochovce blocks are upgraded versions of the original 1970s design. But since most of the concrete has been poured and vital parts were already delivered in the early 1990s, the Slovak State Nuclear Agency UJD has confirmed that Mochovce 3 and 4 will not be able to reach modern safety levels. One of the most significant problems is that the plant has no containment structure, which is needed not only to keep radioactivity inside after an accident, but also to protect the reactors from external events, such as an airplane crash.
The project has also never been submitted to an Environmental Impact Assessment, nor was there any public participation in its planning, because the Slovak government deems the 1986 construction permit to still be valid. “This is a clear violation of EU regulations,” says Heffa Schücking from the German NGO, Urgewald. “Mochovce is a dangerous project and will risk the health and lives of millions of citizens in the heart of Europe,” she adds.
Greenpeace, Urgewald and organisations from the BankTrack network and CEE-Bankwatch are now calling upon other banks from the consortium to also withdraw from the project. These banks include ERSTE Group (Austria), Dexia, KBC/CSOB (both Belgium), Intesa Sanpaolo (Italy), Societe Generale, Calyon (both France), and Mizuho (Japan).