STUDY ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF PAKS II TURNS OUT TO BE INCOMPLETE AND UNFOUNDED

’The study on the environmental impact of Paks II made by MVM Paks II. Zrt. does not specify the possible management of future waste and the future heat load of River Danube. This means that the most important natural impacts remain unclarified.’ reads the review of Energiaklub on the impacts of Paks II.

The environmental licensing process of the planned new nuclear power plant of Paks has been ongoing since December 2014. The Government Agency of Baranya is expected to compose a resolution on whether to grant the environmental license of the reactor. Energiaklub has applied to take part in the process as a legal client and sent their analysis of the documents studying the impacts to the authorities, which, according to the respective laws, must be considered by them.

According to the position of Energiaklub the study on the environmental impacts made by the MVM Paks II. Zrt. does not clarify a number of questions of key importance, seems to be unfounded multiple times and bases its statements on obsolete and faulty views.

The Hungarian laws require the investor to prove the necessity of the project. The above mentioned document tends to prove this necessity with stating that the country has already utilized the opportunities given by renewable energy sources and smaller power plants so that the problem given by the future lack of capacity can only be tackled by newly built reactors of higher efficacy. However, the truth turns out to be that Hungary is far from exploiting its potentials: the energetic simulation of the Energiaklub has shown that even if 27% of the electrical needs of the country would be provided by renewable sources – this rate is 9% as of today – even then all the needs would perfectly and safely be satisfied.

Furthermore, the study argues that the energy created by the nuclear reactor is economically efficient. This statement has been rebutted by several studies including economic calculations. The latest of these is one by Balázs Felsmann, former State Secretary of Energetics: according to his findings the nuclear reactor would be economically beneficial only if the price of electricity rose to its double.

The final management of the radioactive nuclear waste from the power plant is essential from an environmental point of view. However, it turns out that according to the study the investor does not count with this problem. The problem of the replacement of the waste – let it be of smaller of medium radioactivity or even obsolete heating operators – is dealt with as it were solved while the statement is not proved with either any kind of studies or research findings. Given that choosing and studying the possible storage areas for spent nuclear fuel is at an early phase – it has not even started – and that there is no storage area alike in operation anywhere in the world, the authorization of the new power plant is largely questionable. Possibly no industrial establishment would be given any kind of permit if its managers do not even know what to do exactly with the highly contaminative waste threatening the environment for hundreds of thousands of years. However, this seems to be the case with Paks II.

The other most critical point of the study on the environmental impacts is the appropriate cooling method of the new blocks and alongside this the load of heat of River Danube. According to the study the cooling of the reactor would be managed by ‘freshwater method’. This results in both environmental and safety-related risks. The research documents completed as the result of the ‘Teller project’ in 2008 declare that the only safe way for cooling the reactor is the ‘cooling tower method’. These studies describe the difficulty of cooling the reactor when the water of Danube is overly hot or the water level is relatively low as a present problem of even the currently operating blocks. Tackling such cases currently results in the limitation of the efficiency of the blocks in operation. This comes with a serious safety-related risk. It is feared that the economic aspects will overwrite many others – the ‘cooling tower method’ was rejected due to financial reasons, it would have made the investment more expensive – and the interest of the operators will be to run the reactor with the highest load, the highest performance and the lowest number of shutdowns possible. Therefore it is questionable whether they will lower the performance of the power plant in critical periods or not. If not, the inappropriate cooling is expected to threaten the safety of the reactor or overheat the water of River Danube which would cause unimaginable damage to the wildlife of our most valuable river.

The entire evaluation can be accessed through this link.

This analyses has been made with the support of Grassroots Foundation.