Temelin set for launch as protests continue

Austrian protestors in new border blockade as Czech utility prepares to start-up nuclear plant

With Czech utility CEZ reported ready to start-up the Temelin nuclear power station "within days," Austrian campaigners have launched new protests, blockading all border crossings between the Czech Republic and Austria for most of today.

The Temelin power station is regarded as unsafe by Austrian and German experts, and the Austrian government has threatened to delay the Czech Republic's entry to the EU unless extra safety measures are taken (ENDS Daily 30 August). The main safety concerns relate to the mixture of Soviet and western technology at the plant, the quality of valves and pipes in the primary circuit and the design of the reactor containment.

A delegation of Austrian parliamentarians visited the Czech Republic on Wednesday to drive home their concerns to Czech counterparts. Head of the Austrian delegation Eva Glawaschnig was not happy with the outcome. "I'm really disappointed," she said. "We could not see any substantial move on the Czech side."

In addition to new safety features, Austrian opponents of Temelin are calling on the Czechs to undertake a full environmental impact assessment for the plant and to ratify the UN Espoo convention on impact assessment of projects with transboundary implications.

Frantisek Brozik, vice-president of Czech parliament, said the Espoo convention would be ratified within months, but stressed that this would have no retrospective impact on Temelin. Miroslav Benes, head of the Czech parliament's environment committee said that political considerations had played no role in the national nuclear authority's decision to grant an operating licence to Temelin.

Follow Up:
Austrian chancellery, tel: +43 1 53115 2231; Austrian parliament, tel: +43 810 31 25 60; Czech parliament, tel: +420 2 55 12 76; Czech Power Company, tel: + 420 2 24 08 11 11.

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