The European Commission “unfairly discredits nuclear energy” and “fails to make an objective comparison” when it addresses the potential environmental impact of the UK’s proposed investment contract for the construction of two EPR reactors at the Hinkley Point C nuclear station in England, a European industry group has said.
Foratom, the Brussels-based nuclear energy industry association, says in a position paper it is submitting as part of a public consultation being held by the EC on Hinkley Point C, that it cannot see how the preservation of the environment is linked to the investment contract for the station.
Foratom says in the position paper it is surprised that analysis and remarks in a document published by the EC in January 2014, in which the EC laid out its objections to the Hinkley Point deal, are not limited to the state aid and competition aspects of the investment contract.
Foratom says it did not expect the EC “to question the energy policy choices of an EU member state”.
Under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, each member state is entitled to choose its own energy mix.
The EC considers the environmental impact of nuclear energy to be substantial, but fails to bring any reasonable argument to support its belief, Foratom says. Foratom points out that a New Energy Externalities Developments for Sustainability (Needs) study commissioned by the EC indicated clearly that the total environmental externalities of nuclear power are as low if not lower than those of renewables like wind and solar and especially biomass
Foratom said the human and environmental impact of radioactive waste management and storage is closely controlled under the Euratom Treaty as well as being well established and well regulated by international conventions, EU directives and national laws.
“There is no evidence of any radioactive waste management practice in the EU having led to substantial damage to the environment or any indication that this will be the case in future,” Foratom’s position paper says.
Foratom says the EC contradicts itself by saying costs related to decommissioning of nuclear plants cause uncertainty when it later says they can be quantified to a large degree.
There is no reason why the decommissioning costs of the planned EPRs should be any more uncertain than those of other reactor technologies and there is no fundamental difference of approach when it comes to the decommissioning of a nuclear station, the position paper says.
Foratom’s position paper also points out that the Euratom treaty provides for the EU to promote investment, encourage ventures and establish basic installations necessary for the development of nuclear energy in the EU.