New fears expressed over Czech nuclear plant

Austria demands more comprehensive impact assessment; Greenpeace alleges safety flaws

Czech government plans to start generating electricity at the controversial Temelín nuclear power station before the autumn have led to further protests from neighbouring Austria, which has consistently opposed completion of the long-running project (ENDS Daily 7 April 1999).

According to the Austrian environment ministry, the Czech Republic has failed to provide enough safety documentation for the plant. It wants a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the whole plant, including formal cross-border consultations. The ministry further argues that a Czech court ruling last year requiring an EIA on a waste facility at Temelín should in fact be read as requiring assessment of all recent modifications to the plant.

Construction of the Soviet-designed Temelín plant began in the mid 1980s but stalled after the fall of communist rule. US enterprise Westinghouse eventually stepped in and the Czech cabinet voted last year to complete the plant (ENDS Daily 17 May 1999).

In a related development, the Czech office of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Europe claimed yesterday that leaked documents had shown safety flaws at the plant. Greenpeace said that internal papers referred to an unresolved problem with Temelín's fuel rod loading system as well as procedural shortcuts during safety tests.

Follow Up:
Austrian environment ministry, tel: +43 1 515 22; Greenpeace Czech Republic.

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