Poland Rebuffs German Call on Nuclear Power

By Marcin Sobczyk

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk Wednesday rejected a German call on Poland to cancel the planned construction of nuclear power plants, saying the Polish public supports the project.

“We can’t succumb to hysteria about it,” Mr. Tusk said in remarks from northwestern Poland, near the border with Germany. “The reason for radiological risks in Japan isn’t an accident at the nuclear plant, but an earthquake and tsunami.”

The minister-president of the German federal state of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzeck, told Germany daily Tagesspiegel earlier in March he hoped Poland will abandon the plan after the nuclear crisis in Japan. Mr. Tusk Wednesday called Platzeck’s remarks inappropriate.

Poland plans to build two nuclear power plants, each with a 3,000 megawatt capacity, as part of a strategy to diversity the country’s energy sources away from coal and an over-reliance on natural gas from Russia.

“Calls from a friendly political leader from the other side of the border, Mr. Platzeck, for Poland to stop the project appeared somewhat inappropriate to me. A country that has about 16 nuclear power plants shouldn’t be too concerned with our plans to build the most modern plants available on the market,” the Polish prime minister said.

Acceptance for a nuclear energy program is high in Poland, he added, despite the country’s memory of the Chernobyl disaster in neighboring Ukraine, and concerns about Poland’s own nuclear program in the final years of communism. Poland in 1990 stopped the construction of the nuclear power plant in Zarnowiec, northern Poland, which was supposed to use Soviet technology.

“Without public acceptance, such projects don’t make sense, although everything tells me acceptance of modern and safe nuclear installations is very high in Poland,” Mr. Tusk said, adding he’s not ruling out a referendum on the matter or a debate in parliament.

“Remembering well the time when the unfinished investment raised concerns, today I have an impression the public opinion in Poland is interested in having cheap, safe and clean energy,” he said.