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Report January 2019 (Dana Mareková)

The Slovak nuclear sector is still struggling with its communist heritage. Dangerous nuclear decisions are made behind the closed doors. The nuclear regulator, UJD, has too much power and too little control. It´s decisions are not “double-checked” by a relatively weak (in this area) Ministry of Environment or civil society – as there is no anti-nuclear campaign. 

There is however a certain chance to prevent the most dangerous moves by increasing scrutiny. UJD and MoE must feel pressure and there are three kinds of pressure, which seem to be feasible: legal, communication and diplomatic.

  • Legal – from well targeted and strategic legal actions.
  • Communication – via media.
  • And diplomatic – from international community, lead by Austria using UN Conventions. 

Slovak nuclear decision-making must not be done behind the closed doors any longer.  

Ms Mareková sees a chance to initiate a public-service environmental impact assessment for „old projects“ – including access to information. For both V2 and Mochovce 1-4, certain decisions have been made without a valid EIA and without public participation. Court and Aarhus decisions can be used to challenge this.

Bohunice and Mochovce both have the problem expressed in the ACCC (Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee): The Slovak law does not provide for an adequate (note there was some EIA legislation, but not fully acc to international standards) EIA for buildings that were started before 2006, the date of the adoption of the valid Slovak EIA law. In this respect, some of these old projects did not have a sufficient public participation process , even if it concerns such large projects as Bohunice and Mochovce. This is the legacy of the former regime, which was powerful, unlawful and dangerous.

MO1,2 was originally launched without EIA, but when capacity was increased in 2007, there was a non-compliant EIA, to which the Austrian Ministry of the Environment noted many critical issues. At first the SR tried to get away without an EIA, but Austria protested and there was something like a compromise paper with some answers that was used for consultations for the Austrian public.

Austria has clarified that it does not accept the exceptions granted by the Slovak authorities. Austria insisted on an EIA and the implementation of ESPOO, as agreed in the bilateral SR-A document on the implementation of ESPOO. Austria reiterates that the procedure does not correspond to that of a full cross-border EIA procedure, but recognizes that the Slovak side has sought to be very open in its content.

OUTLOOK: In the following it remains to be clarified:

  • Is it correct that the Slovak MoE defines the current projects related to MO 1,2 (for which there are presently ongoing decision-making procedures) as mere ‚changes in intended activity‘ compared to the uprate project conducted in the year 2007 (for which a proper EIA has been carried out). Should these current projects not be subject to another EIA process (possibly not an entire EIA process)? It is necessary to look at how the EIA law „Changes …“ defined.
  • This requires further technical and legal arguments and information and must reflect the Slovak procedural laws (technical and transparency arguments can be raised only at a time and within a proceeding as allowed by law)
  • To what extent have the safety regulations been renewed and taken into account?