Brussels 5th June - In Brussels today and in over 20 cities across Europe, protests by environmental groups intensified pressure on BNP Paribas to withdraw its funding of the controversial Belene Buglarian nuclear power plant.
In Brussels, activists from Friends of the Earth Europe, Netwerk Vlaanderen, Reseau financement alternatif and Friends of the Earth Flanders and Brussels gathered outside the BNP Paribas office dressed in radiation suits, declaring the bank "radioactively contaminated". Click for free, print quality photo (credit: Lode Sadaine/FoEE)
Daniel Meijers, Anti-nuclear campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
"It is completely irresponsible of BNP Paribas to fund the Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. The site is at high risk of earthquakes and the reactors haven't even been properly tested. Investment in Belene could be investment in the next Chernobyl disaster."
The Belene Nuclear Power Plant is situated in northern Bulgaria, close to the Romanian border in an area at high risk of earthquakes. During the last large earthquake in 1977, 120 people died just 14 km from the project site.
The nuclear project was abandoned in the 1990s following a scientific assessment that warned that the area was not suitable for a nuclear reactor. The Bulgarian Cabinet deemed Belene to be "technically unsafe and economically not viable". However, the Bulgarian government reversed this decision, announcing in 2003 that they would restart the project. 
The specific reactors planned are of a Russian design which has not been through full safety testing and has never before been built in Europe.
On 14 May this year, BNP Paribas won the tender for a 250 million Euro loan to the Bulgarian electricity company NEK, to finance the first stage of planning and construction of Belene.  Eleven other international banks have refused to finance the project, including UniCredit, Deutsche Bank , KBC, Commerzbank, Societe General, Citibank and Credit Suisse.
Today a representative of the Brussels BNP Paribas office was presented with a letter demanding that BNP Paribas withdraws all investment and capital from the Belene project. 
 Timeline of events: http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/Belene.chronology.pdf
In an official response, BNP Paribas has confirmed its 250 million Euro loan to NEK, and has confirmed that it will consider further financing of Belene's construction in the future.