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BBC: Hungarian environmentalists look to EC to dispute Paks

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Environmentalists in Hungary “hope the European Commission will rule that Hungaryʼs 20% share of the construction costs will be judged to be a direct subsidy, which is illegal under competition rules,” BBC reported today.

Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to lend Hungary 80% of the estimated construction cost for the new nuclear reactor in Paks, which Hungary is expected to pay back with the electricity generated at the plant.

The Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office declared the Paks expansion contracts confidential documents, following Hungarian NGO Energiaklubʼs request that the contracts be made publicly available. Despite the classification being challenged as contradicting Hungarian laws, Attila Aszódi, the commissioner in charge of the expansion of Hungary’s sole nuclear plant in Paks, said that making the contract details of the expansion confidential for 30 years is in accordance with both Hungarian and European Union laws.

Environmentalists in Hungary say the plan will plunge Hungary into debt, and produce expensive energy, especially given the falling cost of renewable energy sources.

The government defended its decisions, saying the new reactors are needed to cover the growing energy demand and they claim it will make the country more energy independent. Figures from Prime Minister Viktor “Orbán’s nuclear energy tsar” – as BBC refers to commissioner Aszódi – suggest electricity from Paks would be 10 to 15% cheaper than solar.

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