Croatian PM promises safe nuclear waste storage despite Bosnian scepticism

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Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic promised the highest safety standards will be applied during the construction of Croatia’s first radioactive waste disposal site near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina after a joint session of Croatian and Bosnian governments in Zagreb, though Bosnia’s Foreign Trade Minister, Stasa Kosarac was reportedly less convinced.

Modern-day Croatia and Slovenia co-own the Krsko nuclear power plant in Slovenia, which became operational in 1983 as the first and only such plant in the former Yugoslavia.

The plant produces some six billion kWh of power every year. According to Vecernji List, around half of its output is used up by Slovenia, which accounts for 20% of annual electricity consumption, with the other half sent to Croatia, which covers 14% of the country’s needs.

Although initially meant to be decommissioned in 2023, after 40 years of use, in 2022, both countries agreed to extend its end-of-life to 2043. However, as nuclear waste has been temporarily stored on-site at Krsko, where the capacity has been foreseen for a 40-year operation, Croatia must now take custody of half of the waste.

For this purpose, Croatian authorities selected a remote site in Cerkezovac in central Croatia, near the town of Dvor and only a few kilometres away from the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The plan includes constructing a purpose-built storage facility on the site of abandoned military barracks there. The project, estimated to cost around €200 million, is still in the planning phase, and it is expected that Cerkezovac will receive its first shipment of nuclear waste in 2027.

Bosnian opposition

But the project to build a nuclear waste facility close to the Una River in an area known for its pristine nature quickly attracted vocal opposition from environmentalist groups and some Bosnian officials.

Kosarac reportedly told journalists after the meeting that the location selected by Croatia was “unacceptable” and that he “invited everyone” to help in seeking a new location.

Last month, he already told the media that he had asked to meet with the EU’s diplomacy chief, Josep Borrell, to convey his disagreement about Croatia going through with its Cerkezovac plan on behalf of Bosnia, and claimed that “Slovenia and Hungary” supported his efforts to get Croatia to change its plan.

For his part, Plenkovic said that Croatia would apply the “highest safety standards” at Cerkezovac and that his country “has no interest in jeopardising its population, let alone anyone in neighbouring and friendly countries.”

“The location of the waste storage facility is in a hilly, uninhabited area, and it is meant to take in low- and medium-level radioactive waste produced at Krsko… If someone decided to spend an entire year, 24 hours a day, standing in front of that facility, they would receive the amount of radiation which is lower than travelling as a passenger on a flight from Europe to America,” Plenkovic said after the meeting.


Source: Euractiv

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