In a response to criticism from environmentalists who are pushing for a referendum on the plan to expand the Krško nuclear power plant, Minister Andrej Vizjak said a plebiscite should be held on Slovenia’s overall energy plans.
The Government of Slovenia came under fire by activists who oppose the construction of a second unit in the Krško nuclear power plant, which the country shares with neighboring Croatia. Speaking after the informal meeting of ministers responsible for environment and climate change in European Union member states, Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning Andrej Vizjak said energy experts are backing the plan.
Energy security is at stake
The Ministry of Infrastructure has just issued an energy permit for the 1.1 GW facility to state-controlled GEN Group, though it only enabled the production of the documents that are required for a decision on whether to build it. The move prompted environmentalist groups to demand a referendum on the matter.
Vizjak: We must find a solution for Slovenia’s electricity supply
“We must be aware that we are abandoning coal use, that the existing unit in JEK (nuclear power plant Krško) is nearing the end of its lifespan and that the consumption of electricity will only grow with the fossil energy phaseout. We must be responsible and invest a lot in reliable supply, including our own resources… I understand that NGOs have certain reservations, but we must find a solution for Slovenia’s electricity supply. That is why we need to put the whole concept of future energy supply issues to referendum, not just one solution,” Vizjak stressed.
The success of the July 11 referendum against the changes to the Waters Act, which were adopted in March, also resulted in calls for Vizjak’s resignation, but also for the entire government to step down.
Three cross-border disputes
President Borut Pahor also said recently that he is in favor of a referendum on JEK2, given its size and cost. President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen told him and their Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanović last week that his country is still against the construction of the second reactor. Still, he acknowledged that many countries in the EU are dependent on nuclear energy.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is at loggerheads with Croatia over its plan to dump radioactive waste from Krško near its border. On the other hand, Croatia doesn’t approve of Slovenia’s intention to store its part of the waste in the nuclear power plant’s vicinity, in Vrbina, next to the border between the two countries. Croatian state-owned utility HEP owns half of the Krško facility.