Estonia's environmental associations say building N-plant would entail significant risks

  • 2020-01-27
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The Estonian Council of Environmental NGOs (EKO) finds that the establishment of a nuclear power plant in Estonia would entail significant risks.

According to EKO, establishing a Generation III+ small reactor in Estonia would add to environmental problems, not help resolve them.  

The operation of a Generation III+ module reactor, which the company Fermi Energia is planning to establish here, would require Estonia to start depositing radioactive waste of life-threatening radiation levels, whose safety Estonia would have to ensure at own expense for thousands of years, EKO said. 

History also shows that the danger of large-scale accidents always continues to be present in Generation II and III power plants. Although there are N-plants in Estonia's neighborhood already now, the establishment of a new local plant would increase the risk of accidents further, according to EKO.  

To keep the new plant running, Estonia would need to import nuclear fuel, technology and know-how. That would put Estonia in a constant dependence on external suppliers. Besides, a solution like this would not be sensible given the availability of renewable local energy resources.

The establishment of a N-plant would mean more for the state than just the issuance of a construction permit. It entails a need for rearrangements and finding of resources in several areas starting with new laws and training of officials, and ending with the establishment of a safety infrastructure and creating initial awareness in residents.

Expenses of such scale for the state to create opportunities for one electricity producer are disproportionate and avoidable, and one should focus on the already deployed renewable energy solutions instead. 

To pay back the major investment, the N-plant would have to operate for approximately 40 years, which in the rapidly changing world means a major economic risk and a risk that the taxpayer will have to bail out the project if problems arise, EKO finds.

Considering aforementioned risks and the fact that more environment-friendly and safer alternatives exist, EKO is not in favor of the establishment of a N-plant in Estonia on the planned terms. EKO said it will consider a review of its stance when Generation IV nuclear plants effectively proven to be safe, which recycle nuclear waste, have been established in the world.