Summary: The Ukrainian Government's request for finance to complete two nuclear reactors has put the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in hot water. On December 14, a coalition of sixty organisations from all over the world protested against the proposal, demanding the London-based Bank stop funding for this project, which they claim would pose a gave danger to the environment and population of the region. The EBRD, which considers nuclear projects particularly sensitive, has yet to decide whether or not to extend the credit.

The two nuclear plants, Khmelnitsky 2 and Rovno 4, are partially built Soviet-designed 1,000 megawatt VVER reactors in the North East of Ukraine. In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union saw construction work halted on the reactors. In 1996, the Ukrainian Government proposed completing the two reactors to make up for lost power generation capacity when the last reactor unit at the infamous Chernobyl power station is finally closed in 2000. The completion of the two reactors would cost around USD1.72 billion, of which the EBRD has been asked to extend a loan for USD190 million. The Bank is still considering the project, which it suspects may not meet its own criteria on safety and poor public consultation grounds. Participation or intimidation? The EBRD staff has not yet made its decision on whether to recommend that the Board of Directors release the credit line, pending the completion of a public participation process, where the general public is consulted for its opinion. This is a criterion set by the EBRD itself. The coalition of protesters claims that, although the public consultation process is up and running, the project sponsors have been consistently uncooperative throughout the public participation process. "The Ukrainian secret service has harassed, interrogated and arrested...

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