Environmentalists protest again Belene nuclear power plant

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On September 9 Bulgarian and international environmental organisations, including the local coalition BeleNE (No to Belene nuclear power plant) and Greenpeace, sent a letter to the European Union (EU) Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes asking her to investigate the tender procedures for subcontractors in the construction of Bulgaria’s Belene nuclear power plant.

Subcontracts worth more than one billion euro are to be granted without tender to Bulgarian companies. Under the agreement with Atomstroyexport, the Russian company chosen to construct the power station has to subcontract 30 per cent of the value of the Belene construction contract to Bulgarian companies, which means procurement contracts worth a total of 1.3 billion euro.

The environmentalists asked Kroes to investigate whether such tender procedure is not breaking EU competition legislation and might give the nuclear power project an illegitimate advantage.

They also criticised “the propaganda war that the Bulgarian government is waging to hide the problems around the project”. Ten activists presented Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev with a toy dragline, pointing out that playing around with nukes wastes time for serious energy policy.

Their protests took place in front of the Cabinet on September 9. Later, during the day, the environmentalists gave a news conference.

The demonstration follows the groundbreaking ceremony for Belene nuclear power station that took place on September 3 2008.

The power station gave new scope to Bulgaria’s energy sector, Stanishev said during the official ceremony. “The development of the Belene nuclear power plant and our nuclear energy sector will make us a lot more independent,” he said. “It is clear to everyone that without developing nuclear energy, there is no way of dealing with climate change. This is the biggest project Bulgaria has undertaken in the past 18 years.”

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