The decision was made on 12 December following a summit between Czech Premier Milos Zeman and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel. The environmental impact assessment is an EU requirement and will be performed before the plant becomes fully operational. The European Commission had put pressure on the Czech Republic to succumb to the assessment following allegations by neighbours Austria and Germany that the Soviet -styled Temelin did not match western standards and large protests in both countries, which resulted in eastern borders being closed (see related story).The first of the plants two 981 megawatt reactors has been running at test levels since 11 October.

The gesture was still not enough, however, to appease protesters who planned four further major demonstrations against the plant at major Czech-Austrian and Czech-German border crossings for 16 December.

“I cannot imagine Temelin being acceptable in its present form,” said Upper Austrian governor Josef Puehringer, a leading voice against the plant. “I don’t want to believe that experts can describe it as meeting top standards.”

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