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Austria sues EC for approving Paks nuclear plant expansion in Hungary

EBR Staff Writer Published 23 February 2018

Austria has filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice against the European Commission (EC) for approving its neighbor Hungary’s plans to expand the 1,889MW Paks nuclear plant.

Last month, Austria had revealed its intentions of challenging the EC legally for clearing decks for the plant’s expansion. 

Austria Sustainability and Tourism Minister Elisabeth Koestinger confirmed that Vienna has started the case against the EC, reported Reuters.

Koestinger was quoted by the publication as saying: “We must take up this David-versus-Goliath struggle for the sake of our nature, our environment and our unique countryside.

“Nuclear energy has no place in Europe. We will not deviate from this line by even a centimeter.”

Austria’s objection is to the European Union (EU) regulators’ approval in March 2017 of a proposal from Hungary to build two new nuclear reactors at the Paks nuclear power station.

EU state aid regulators then said that the approval was given after Hungarian authorities had agreed to put in force several measures to ensure that anti-competition laws are not violated in the project expansion.

The addition of the new nuclear reactors will more than double the capacity of the nuclear power plant, which currently is believed to meet about 40% of Hungary’s power consumption.

Hungary has been planning to begin construction of the new VVER-type reactors, each of 1,200MW, this year with the help of Russian state-owned nuclear energy company Rosatom. The first of the two nuclear reactors at the Paks atomic power plant is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Commissioned in 1982 following 15 years of construction, the Paks nuclear plant is located in central Hungary, and is owned by state-controlled power company MVM Group.

Currently, the Hungarian nuclear plant has four reactors in operation. While one of the nuclear reactors has a capacity of 470MW, the other three reactors have a capacity of 473MW each.

Image: The Paks Nuclear Power Plant in Hungary. Photo: courtesy of Barna Rovács (Rovibroni)/Wikipedia.org.