March 1, 2001 – When G8 environment ministers meet Friday March 2nd in Trieste, Friends of the Earth activists will launch a new report ‘Limited Safety/Unlimited Risk’. In a demonstration outside the summit building, FOE campaigners will call on the G8 to face the issue of nuclear risk. The report criticizes the G8’s failure to shut down high-risk reactors and demands that the G8 stop squandering tax-payers’ millions in subsidies to its ailing and discredited nuclear power industry.

At the 1992 G7 meeting in Munich, governments promised that decrepit Soviet-designed nuclear plants in Central & Eastern Europe would be shut down to prevent another disaster like Chernobyl, but so far none of these high risk reactors [1] have been closed.

Dodgy fix-it contracts in Central and Eastern Europe for the West’s desperate nuclear industry (i.e. Siemens/Framatom) have resulted in the operational lives of dangerous reactors being extended. Experts in European governments [2] and NGOs are highly critical of the dubious safety assessments and methodologies carried out to justify so-called ‘safety improvements’ in old plants already officially declared ‘non-upgradable’.

Patricia Lorenz from Friends of the Earth Europe explains:  “Kozloduy in Bulgaria was declared non-upgradeable. Bohunice in Slovakia was declared non-upgradeable. Vague talk of ‘safety improvements’ is nothing more than a PR strategy. An evaluation must be made, clear goals must be set and the final closure of high risk reactors assured.”

Every penny spent on extending the operational life of high risk ‘dinosaur’ reactors diverts investment from other opportunities – CEE countries have a massive potential for energy efficiency projects.

Laura Radiconcini, Friends of the Earth Italy: “Lower safety standards in the East constitute a threat on two fronts: the very real threat of dangerous reactors in operation, with Krsko 140 km from Triest and Temelin 30 km from the Austrian border, and the risk that lower standards in the East become a justification for low levels of safety in the West. No country can say that nuclear safety is a national issue – radioactivity knows no borders.”

The G8 currently discuss plans for the disposal of plutonium from nuclear weapons: financing the production and use of MOX, a plutonium-based fuel. These plans would result in recklessly expensive and technically unsound projects, constituting the birth of a new plutonium industry. Friends of the Earth calls for a complete revision of nuclear policy at G8 and EU levels [3].

Patricia Lorenz, FOEE: “Friends of the Earth calls on the G8 to stop hijacking the disarmament issue to justify MOX fuel production. The G8 plutonium plans would require yet more tax-payer money being poured into the bottomless pit that is the nuclear industry and more dodgy modifications to nuclear plants in the former Soviet Union and so further delay the closure of high risk reactors.”

Friends of the Earth is organising two events in Trieste:
On the eve of the G8 summit:
March 1st 4 pm
Sala Eurostar, Central Railway Station of Trieste

Press conference & presentation of a new report “Limited Safety/Unlimited Risk”
March 2nd, 17:30 & March 3rd, 09:30
Palazzo della Regione, in front of the G8 meeting

FOE activists from Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia demonstrate against nuclear risk and the continued inaction of EU governments to honestly and comprehensively address the safety problems of nuclear power.

Further information and the report Limited Safety / Unlimited Risk available from:
Patricia Lorenz, Friends of the Earth Europe Energy Campaigner:
Tel: +32 2 542 0184
Email: Patricia.Lorenz(at)

[1] In its Agenda 2000, the EU¥s blueprint on enlargement, the need for high nuclear safety was confirmed and closure timetables were established. Eg. Kozloduy in Bulgaria was to be closed by 1998.

[2] An Austrian study found that, with regards to the K2/R4 reactors in the Ukraine: “safety issues (are) not dealt with adequately” and that the problems were so severe that they “call into question the concept of the modernisation program”. The report went on to state that claims that “K2R4 (is) reaching an ‘internationally acceptable safety level’ or ‘a safety level similar to that of similarly aged but recently re-licensed Western plants’ as forwarded by Energoatom, are in no way substantiated.” (Report to the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Water Management by the Risk Research Institute of the Academic Senate of the University of Vienna.)

[3] Friends of the Earth sets out the following guidelines in Limited Safety/Unlimited Risk: – No double standards. Projects in the East must not be of lower standard than those financed in the West. – No case-by-case approach to safety assessments. There must be a clear methodology and clear safety targets. – International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) standards are insufficient. – Nuclear safety standards must be up-to-date. Safety standards from the 1960s and 1970s are not acceptable. – Information must be made public without exception