Environmental permit granted for first Polish plant

22 September 2023

Poland's General Director for Environmental Protection (GDOŚ) has issued to Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe (PEJ) its decision on the environmental conditions for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the province of Pomerania.

How the plant in Pomerania could look (Image: PEJ)

PEJ, the Polish government company that is progressing its policy to deploy up to six reactors at multiple sites in the country by 2040, submitted the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report for the first plant to GDOŚ on 29 March 2022. GDOŚ is an expert institution responsible for environmental protection and control of the investment process.

The EIA report examined the environmental impact of constructing and operating a plant with a generating capacity of up to 3750 MWe in the area of ​​the municipalities of Choczewo, Gniewino and Korkowa in the province of Pomerania. PEJ said the final EIA report complied with the provisions of the decision of GDOŚ, which in 2016 defined the scope of the environmental report in relation to the considered location variants and their technical sub-options, as well as in relation to the infrastructure accompanying the power plant.

The draft decision was reviewed by the Director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia, the State Sanitary Inspector for the Pomorskie Voivodeship, the Director of the Regional Board of Water Management in Gdańsk of the State Water Holding Wody Polskie, the President of the Polish National Atomic Energy Agency, and the Minister of Climate and Environment.

GDOŚ has now issued its final decision, which PEJ said is "a key permit obtained in the investment process, as subsequent administrative approvals, including the location decision and the construction permit, must be consistent with the terms and conditions contained in the decision on environmental conditions".

The obtained decision on environmental conditions determines the site variant for the first nuclear power plant in Poland, at the Lubiatowo-Kopalino site in the Choczewo municipality. It also defines the conditions of using the environment at the stage of development and operation of the facility, requirements concerning the environment protection necessary to be included in the design documentation, requirements for counteracting the effects of industrial accidents, and it also imposes an obligation of the reassessment of environmental impact, as part of the procedure for issuing the construction permit.

The decision was preceded by national and transboundary consultations with 14 countries that applied for participation in this procedure. The national consultations, held from 20 July to 18 August 2023, included all residents of Poland, who could review the documentation and submit their comments and conclusions. The transboundary consultations were held from September 2022 until July 2023. As part of the procedure, relevant protocols were signed with all the countries involved, including four protocols signed after intergovernmental expert meetings held under Article 5 of the Espoo Convention, which contributed to closing the process within the assumed timeframe.

"The issued decision on environmental conditions is one of the most important stages in the permitting process and brings us significantly closer to the start of the construction of the first nuclear power plant in Poland," said PEJ President Mateusz Berger. "It defines the conditions that must be met in order to execute a nuclear investment project in compliance with environmental regulations and requirements on both the national and international level."

PEJ - a special-purpose vehicle 100% owned by the State Treasury - has already obtained a decision-in-principle issued by the Ministry of Climate and Environment confirming that the company's investment is in line with the energy policy implemented by the state. In August, it applied to the head of the Pomeranian Voivodeship for a location decision for the plant.

The Polish government selected the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor technology for construction at Lubiatowo-Kopalino in Pomerania in November 2022.

Westinghouse and Bechtel have just signed a formal agreement to partner on the design and construction of the plant. They expect to sign an engineering services contract with PEJ within the next week.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News