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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Greenpeace Urges Delay on Atomic Loan

LONDON - Greenpeace urged the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development Thursday to delay a decision on loans to Ukraine for two atomic reactors, saying the designs may not be safe.

The environmental group claimed that a study commissioned by the Austrian government revealed serious shortcomings in the construction of the Khmelnytskyi and Rivne reactors.

The half-completed reactors are being built to compensate for electrical generating capacity lost when the government closes the plant at Chernobyl, site of the world's worst nuclear disaster.

Saying it had obtained a copy of the Austrian study, Greenpeace claimed the reactors' designers underestimated potential damage by earthquakes. Greenpeace said the reactors will fail to meet Western safety standards at start-up and that key safety upgrades could be delayed for years because of Ukraine's poor financial state.

?These reactors are dangerous, they are not needed, and the EBRD must now delay its decision on whether to finance them in the light of this safety study,? said Greenpeace activist Tobias Muenchmeyer.

The European bank is expected to make a decision in early December on a $200 million loan for the reactors. More loans from other countries are expected to sponsor the project, whose total cost is $1.4 billion. The EBRD decision, however, will determine the availability of other funding.

Ukraine was site of the world's worst nuclear disaster after the No. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl atomic power plant exploded and caught fire in April 1986, sending a radioactive cloud over much of Europe.

Austria, a nuclear-free country opposed to atomic power in Europe, took a special interest in the construction of the reactors during a May visit to Ukraine by President Thomas Klestil.

Ukraine operates 14 nuclear reactors at five atomic power plants, which produce about 40 percent of country's electricity output.