Hungary is again causing concern for the EU – this time existential: A new nuclear power plant is to be built. In an earthquake area. Austrian experts sound the alarm.
Brussels / Vienna – Hungary * recently kept the EU excited. In one current case, however, the concern for the neighboring countries is almost existential: a new nuclear power plant is to be built near the town of Paks on the Danube. But a study by the Austrian Federal Environment Agency gives an urgent warning. According to the experts, the Paks II power plant is planned precisely above an active tectonic fault – a circumstance that the operators would not have mentioned in their final permit application.
The office has made serious allegations. The site safety report on the construction project ignores almost all paleoseismological data obtained from the area and unceremoniously locates the size and location of the “Dunaszentgyörgy-Harta Fault” differently than the previously published geological report on the site, according to the Austrian study Merkur.de* is available. The planners’ expertise contradicts “good scientific practice”, surface shifts are quite possible contrary to the operator’s final paper.
In short: there is concern that an earthquake could cause massive damage to the power plant. And that Hungary is still implementing the project. There is already a site permit, but the building permit is still pending. Incidentally, the new nuclear project is being financed by Russia * and will be operated by the Russian company Rosatom.
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Austrian media had already reported on the topic in the past few days. “No building has a good chance of surviving something like this,” said the Viennese geologist Kurt Decker of the daily newspaper default with a view to surface displacements or sagging. According to the first geological report at the Paks site, this is exactly what is conceivable in the future – even though the last quake occurred in the distant past.
In the first, much longer, expertise, geologists located the tectonic rift exactly under the planned reactor block, the paper writes. They also considered surface dislocations possible. Against this background, the conclusion of the experts at the Austrian Federal Environment Agency is clear: “The Paks II site should therefore be viewed as unsuitable”, is their conclusion.
The government of Sebastian Kurz * (ÖVP) in Vienna is also alarmed. “The planned Paks II nuclear power plant is being planned in a region that is characterized by a high risk of earthquakes,” said Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) default. The expert opinion from Vienna was forwarded to the Hungarian authorities – “I expect that they will take our objections seriously.”
Hungary: Orbán’s minister in charge used to manage the Paks I power plant himself
However, it is unclear whether that will happen. In 2017, shortly after the site license was granted, Viktor Orbán * appointed János Süli from the right-wing populist Christian Democratic People’s Party as minister responsible for the power plant plans. Süli himself was head of the power plant company in Paks from 2009 to 2010. A block has been in operation there since 1982; According to the Hungarian nuclear authority, it supplies 50 percent of the country’s energy needs.
In view of this situation, the first European parliamentarians are already bringing the EU Commission * into play. Six Green MPs – including the Austrians Thomas Waitz and Sarah Wiener – asked about the Commission’s position. They also wanted to know what the commission was going to do to verify the earthquake risk.
Hungary’s nuclear power plant plans could call the EU into action – new infringement proceedings possible
The answer: one was aware of the studies that suggested an active rejection in the area of the power plant and asked Hungary about the next steps. However, the power plant permit falls within the competence of the Hungarian state. Apparently, Brussels does not want to remain inactive.
The Commission is monitoring whether Hungary is implementing the “Nuclear Safety Directive”, the information said. The submitted plans for Paks II would also be examined “in order to form a judgment as to whether it can be assumed that the notified plans will lead to radioactive contamination of the water, soil or airspace of another Member State”. If violations of the directive are found, the Commission can “initiate infringement proceedings if necessary”.
However, it would be only one of several proceedings against Hungary: Corresponding steps are already in place because of the dealings with non-governmental organizations in the country and with regard to Viktor Orban’s asylum policy. Chancellor candidates Annalena Baerbock and Armin Laschet also recently got into a dispute in front of the cameras over the question of how to deal with Hungary correctly. (fn) *Merkur.de is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.