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Russian gas cutoff energizes nuclear comeback

Italy, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Britain are among those giving nuclear another look.

Ready to restart? Slovakia recently announced plans to restart the Soviet-era Bohunice nuclear plant (pictured above) if Russian gas deliveries don't resume soon.

Reuters/File

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Europe's natural gas crisis is causing a nuclear fallout of sorts.

With the squabble between Russia and Ukraine leaving much of the continent with uncertain gas supplies, some governments seem to be getting over their "Chernobyl complexes" and are returning to nuclear energy, hoping it will provide a form of reliable, domestically produced energy.

Slovakia and Bulgaria, among the worst hit by the gas cutoff, announced this week that they may reopen Soviet-era reactors that had been dismantled in recent years, before the countries joined the European Union.

The EU had encouraged and provided funds for the closure of old nuclear facilities in Eastern Europe out of security concerns following the 1986 disaster in Ukraine.

Leaders of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet in Moscow Saturday to discuss the crisis, which began Jan. 6. Even if natural-gas supplies are fully restored, many worry the crisis will only be repeated next winter – after all, this is the third year in a row for a energy spat. Experts say the underlying causes of corruption and political disputes show no end of abating.

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