Parliament demands full Temelin assessment

MEPs increase political pressure on Czech government over controversial nuclear plant

The European Parliament has endorsed Austria's demand that the Czech Republic carry out a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant before activating it. The call came one day after the plant's owner announced that it would begin producing electricity within a fortnight.

The European Commission supported the aim of the parliament's non-binding resolution, saying: "According to current Czech legislation, an EIA is required before the operating licence is issued. The Commission expects this provision to be enforced by the Czech authorities." Earlier this week, however, Czech officials told the Commission that the plant did not require an EIA because planning permission had been given in 1986, six years before national EIA rules took effect.

Frantisek Hezoucky, director of the plant, criticised the assembly's move. "Any decision by the European Parliament cannot stop us. It bothers us that the European Parliament is voting on something it does not have a clue about," he told Reuters news agency, adding that the plant would probably start up on 20 September.

Temelin hit the headlines again last month after Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel threatened to veto Czech entry to the EU without further safety guarantees (ENDS Daily 30 August). But in yesterday's debate the Commission said fears over the safety of the plant were unfounded. The International Atomic Energy Agency had recently concluded that issues it raised over the operation of Temelin had been "properly addressed" by the Czech authorities, it said.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111, and the debate and resolution; Czech nuclear safety agency, tel: +420 2 2162 4111, and a Foratom information paper on Temelin.

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