Croatian Greens Condemn Nuclear Plans

Friday, August 22, 2008

Zagreb _ Croatian environmentalists are calling on the government to rethink its energy strategy as the government pushes on with plans to build the country’s first nuclear plant.

“After assessing our natural resources we decided to go for sustainable development with pillars in environmentally responsible agriculture, viticulture and responsible tourism. Nuclear energy can jeopardise it all,” said Jovan Jelic, the head of Croatia’s municipality of Erdut as he announced the start of a national anti-nuclear campaign.

Croatia’s Prime Minister Ivo Sanader earlier said that the country "must remove the taboo about nuclear power plants."

The Croatian Nuclear Association has been lobbying for the construction of a nuclear power plant by 2020 arguing the shortage of energy, high price of energy resources and precarious supply are reasons enough for why Zagreb should push on with the plant.

But Croatian environmental groups are angry with the plans.

The projected location for the nuclear power plant in eastern Croatia is located near the delta of the Danube and the Drava rivers, that feed a fragile wetland ecosystem of the Kopacki rit Nature Park.

Instead of a nuclear future, eastern Croatia has all the conditions in place to go for renewable energy, said Ljiljanka Mitos–Svoboda, the president of the Croatian Environmental Press Centre. As the location borders Serbia, Serbs must also be consulted because they are parties of the UN Espoo Convention on environmental impact assessment, she added.

The nuclear plans have immediate consequences for the local economy in Erdut.

Kutjevo, the biggest Croatian wine producer, announced the cancellation of its acquisition of local wine company, Erdut Vineyards, which produces three million litres of wine annually.

Local environmental groups say they will hold an international conference on the issues at the beginning of September in the town of Osijek.

The co-president of the Green List, Vlasta Toth said solar energy can produce power immediately, where a nuclear power plant takes 10 years to construct.

Each year Croatia produces around 2.5 million square metres of solar panels. Only a small percentage is installed in Croatia itself. All public buildings, supermarkets, big magazines should have solar panels and collectors for heating and cooling, Toth said.

Croatia currently has no nuclear plants on its territory but does co-own the Krsko plant in neighbour Slovenia, an agreement between the two republics which survived the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

Croatia receives about 40 percent of its electricity needs from Krsko although the plant is due to be decommissioned in 2023.

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