The media has consistently praised nuclear energy, which is supposed to be competitive and essential for the functioning of the Slovenian economy, including for the electrolysis of aluminium and other energy-intensive industry.
The media persistently misleads that a nuclear power plant produces 40% of all energy in Slovenia. That’s not entirely true. Half of NEK is owned by The Croatian, half of the electricity from NEK goes directly to Croatia, so Slovenian half of NEK generates only 20% of electricity for Slovenia, which is about 5% of all energy that Slovenia needs.
To the criticism of the professional public that the favoured nuclear reactor AP1000 for the planned JEK2 is too expensive and too big for Slovenia, the nuclear proponents responded with an AP300. Since last week, Slovenian media have been full of propaganda information about the SMR AP300, which can produce electricity, heat and drinking water from the sea.
At the same time this same media reject to publish any text produce by any member of the opposition to nuclear power. Only non-governmental organisation that are not opposing nuclear power are financially supported by the governmental institutions. There are cases that activists against nuclear power were declared jobless. For example one of the autors of this paper was made jobless as assisting prof. at the Faculty of social sciences in Ljubljana for following 17 years.
The smallest and most exposed nuclear state
The background to these bizarre stories is frightening. Slovenia is the smallest nuclear state in the world and as such the most vulnerable, exposed. At the same time, the nuclear proponents have close ties to the government and the ruling parties.
In addition, NEK is only half owned by Slovenia, the owner of the other half is Croatia. In this way, it is difficult to ensure nuclear safety, as Croatian views on nuclear safety are different from Slovenian security needs.
According to the change of Slovenian legislation, the privatization of nuclear power plants is permitted. A privately owned nuclear facility will pose a special security risk, since the desire for profit is contrary to the need for safety.
Abuse of theTaxonomy
The proposal of the EU Commission on nuclear and gas Taxonomy undermines the credibility and reasonability of the EU Commission and reveals von der Layen as incompetent for the function. The winning minority vote of the EU Parliament on taxonomy is a scandal and a proof of its complete inability as a science-based investment tool, gives credence to claims of greenwashing, creates confusion in financial markets, and will cause major delays in the much-needed transition away from fossil fuels. It is also a proof of Macron’s authoritarian and undemocratic victory that encourages east European political elites to carry out an attack on democratic political forces within their countries and within the EU. And it is an attack on future generations and living creatures generally.
Nuclear industry-friendly nuclear regulator
The Slovenian nuclear regulatorURSJV is very sympathetic to nuclear energy and, together with nuclear lobbyists, conceals the reality of nuclear developments.
- In 2012, the URSJV, bypassing the public, approved the changes to the safety report allowing for an extension of the period of operation of the NEK.
- Under the Interstate Treaty and the BHRNEK Act, Croatia would have to take over all its radioactive waste by January 2025, the LILW and the HLW. It will not do so because (contrary to the law) the Interstate Commission for monitoring the implementation of the BHRNEK at the 10th meeting, which was held in July 2015, has decided to keep the HLW in a SFDS facility at the NEK site. No new date has been set for this waste to be taken over. We now read in Croatian newspapers that the Croats will take over their HLW only in 2103. URSJV misleads the public that this decision of the Interstate Commission complies with the BHRNEK Act, but it is not.
- The French IRSN (Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire/ BERSSIN – Seismic Hazard Assessment Section) has commissioned a study of the suitability of the location of Krško for a new nuclear power plant. In a detailed study in 2013, the NEK’s management noted that the location in Krško was located at an active seismic fault line and that this location was not suitable for nuclear facilities. The management of the NEK did not take into account the expert report, but instead suspended its cooperation with the IRSN. As a weak regulator, the URJSV ignored warnings about the risk of the NEK’s location.
- GEN, owner of NEK, wanted to extend the operation of NEK from 40 to 60 years without an environmental impact assessment. Through the court, the NGOs have reached an agreement with the NEK to initiate the environmental impact assessment procedure. However, there was such great pressure that NEK obtained environmental approval, even though part of the documentation was rigged and contrived. Among other things, it is fair that the LILW landfill already accepts nuclear waste, but has not even started to build it yet. At best, it will be built in 2027, by which time the LILW, stored in improvised premises, will be a threat to nuclear safety.
- Cheating the non-existent LILW landfill does not disturb. The GEN’s claim that LILW waste will be landfilled in the first phase from 2023 to 2025 is untrue. A cautionary note in the aforementioned “Environmental Impact Report” would be sufficient reason for ARSO to reject the report and order manufacturers to complete it.
- What is more, NEK operates as if the extension has already been granted, as the 40-year regular operating period has already expired in January 2023 since January 1983. The extension of operation has not yet been granted; only environmental consent has been obtained! Nek is operating unsurely, the 33rd fuel cycle will last until spring 2024! These are violations of the Constitution and of legality, which, in the form of radioactive waste and uncontrollable radiation, will kill people of future generations beyond our present-day representative capabilities.
- In fact, NEK demonstrates, through a policy of executed facts, that it does not need a licence to extend the operation. The investment in the extension of operation was carried out by NEK under the guise of a safety upgrade in agreement with the URSJV, which is also clearly visible from the oversized SFDS of the HLW. The best signal that NEK does not need a licence to extend its operation is the actual operation, since today NEK operates without interruption even after the regular 40-year period has expired. However, NEK does not have permission to extend operation.
The interplay of politics and the nuclear lobby
Until now, Slovenia’s ruling policy has been a covert nuclear lobbyist. With the Energy Act, it allowed the privatization of the nuclear power plant, concealed its nuclear ambitions with the term “low-carbon technologies” in the legislation, falsified documentation and fraudulently defined the use of nuclear energy as priority.
But now the government has gone a step further, becoming an active nuclear advocate. She wanted to include in the political act that the Energy Directorate, within the competent Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy, should become a “nuclear energy promotion body” and take care of the development of the use of nuclear energy. The association of ecological movements ZEG prevented this entry.
Energy is too serious to be left to the nuclear proponents
Nuclear experts regularly inform the public, economy and politics that Slovenia needs a new nuclear power plant. The truth is elsewhere, nuclear investors need space to build a nuclear power plant, and Slovenian leaders, given its degree of corruption, would accept it without reservation.
The nuclear proponents in prepare for the long term and think well, except for what they should. It is particularly hasty and perverse that the that the media, politicians and some scientists push for the construction of a new nuclear power plant before the waste of the old ones is cleaned up.
Nuclear experts should do their job and not get involved in the country’s energy policy. Let them run nuclear facilities properly and safely and correct the mistakes they have made, as soon as possible.
The postponing of nuclear waste to waste is extremely unethical. The generation that benefits from the use of radioactive substances should provide for lasting solutions. The problem of dealing with radioactive waste should not be passed on to the next generations. Is that too much to expect from nuclear experts?
Slovenia has been obstructing the use of renewable energy sources for many years, so it seems that renewable sourcing cannot provide enough energy and that we also need nuclear energy.
We can give up the use of nuclear energy if we take two steps: reduce energy use and include all available renewable sourcing. Floating solar power plants on hydropower plants river damming’s could produce more electricity than the NEK currently produces. Solar power plants on existing suitable roofs could produce nine times as much electricity (27 TWh) as half of the NEK (3 TWh).
It is true that electricity networks need to be modernized and also the storage and chemical processing of electricity from RES should be regulated, but we should also regulate this if they decide on a new nuclear power plant.
nuclear vs. renewable
The nuclear proponents sing the mantra that nuclear energy is compatible with renewable energy sources. That’s not true, of course. Renewable energy has many advantages, it is possible to put power plants on the RES quickly, electricity is relatively cheap and does not burden the environment. But the dynamics of production is not aligned with the needs of consumers. It is therefore necessary to provide energy storage and conversion systems.
The production of a NPP is rigid, it produces (or stands still), but it cannot adapt its production to the changing production of RES and to the needs of consumers. And even if they decided on a new nuclear power plant, would we wait 15 to 20 years without electricity? No, all this time, we will build devices for the use of all suitable RES, use cleaner forms of electricity generation and learn that we spend less. When JEK2 could be built, we won’t need it anymore.
Unlike in the 1970s, when the peak of the construction of nuclear reactors was the culmination of the construction of nuclear reactors, we no longer need them today, because we have a choice of sustainable energy sources. Given how many economic, technical and logistical problems stand in the way of building safe, efficient and cost-competitive nuclear reactors, the nuclear option is not a viable solution.
Nuclear censorship, lies and threats
The Yugoslav totalitarian regime had nuclear ambitions. The construction of at least nine nuclear power plants was planned. In 1974, the construction of the Slovenian/Croatian nuclear power plant Krško (NEK) began, which began 40 years of commercial operation in 1983. A little later, the Croatian/Slovenian nuclear power plant should begin construction in Prevlaka, Croatia. The Croats resigned from this.
Even during its construction, it was opposed by green activists who created resistance to the SFRY’s nuclear program, especially after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
After the break-up of Yugoslavia, NEK, although on the territory of Slovenia, became half owned by Slovenia and half owned by Croatia. Shared ownership is a security issue that is rarely reported by the media.
Nuclear censorship has been around since the nuclear programme was being programming. There are very friendly to pro-nuclear articles and pro-nuclear lies, and it is closed for any criticism or contrary opinion.
Nuclear censorship remains part of our media space. The media shall not publish nor make the required corrections for obvious errors in publications. Thus, there are many articles in the media sympathetic to the nuclear power plant, neutral or critical publications almost without.
NEK was built for 40 years of operation, from 1983 to 2023. After Fukushima, in 2011, the nuclear power plant secretly, under the excuse of a safety upgrade, has prepared extensive work to extend operations from 40 to 60 years without informing the public. Civil society resisted this and reached out to the court for the NEK to initiate proceedings for a comprehensive environmental impact assessment. However, since the nuclear power plant was already ready for renewal, the overall assessment was merely a farce, a show for the public.
With such headlines, the media regularly scares us:
- Without nuclear power, we will be in the cold and dark!
- Without nuclear power, we will be dependent on energy imports!
- Without nuclear power, electricity is going to be more expensive!
- NEK generates approximately 40 percent of all energy in the country (12. 9. 2022; MMC RTV SLO, STA); note MV: it actually produces 5 %.
- Without electricity, we’d be gone in a few weeks.
Unsolvable problem, nuclear waste
Matters in the field of nuclear energy use are different today than more than half a century ago, when Yugoslavia joined the nuclear countries. At that time, we naively believed that science would in time also find a permanent storage of nuclear waste along with the use of nuclear energy. But didn’t. New findings in the field of nuclear waste storage should worry us.
Nowhere in the world is the permanent disposal of nuclear waste solved! Nuclear waste is not a valuable invaluable legacy for the lasted, a but a permanent burden.
The climate crisis must not be replaced by a nuclear waste crisis.
Ph.D. Leo Šešerko, firstname.lastname@example.org
Matjaž Valenčič, email@example.com
|HLW: High-Level Waste |
ILW: Intermediate Level Waste
JEK2: Krško Nuclear Power Plant 2
LILW: low and intermediate level radioactive waste
NEK: Krško Nuclear Power Plant, NPP
NPP: Nuclear Power Plant
RES: renewable energy sources
SFDS: Spent Fuel Dry Storage
URSJV: Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration
ZEG: Slovenian Association of Ecological Movements