German and Austrian governments heavily criticise new Czech nuclear plant
The German Environment Minister and the Austrian Chancellor have expressed concern over the environmental and safety implications of a soon-to-be-opened Czech nuclear plant.
The German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said a study the government had commissioned revealed potential problems with the plant’s safety mechanisms in emergency situations. “This outdated project will not contribute to modern, environment-friendly energy provision in the Czech Republic,” Trittin, a Green Party member, was reported as saying on 22 August by Czech news service, Ceske Noviny.
A day earlier the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel said that he believed it unthinkable for the energy chapter to be closed in the negotiations on the Czech Republic’s entry into the EU without the safety of the nuclear power plant at Temelin, south Bohemia, being sorted out, according to Upper Austrian provincial premier Josef Puehringe. The politician reportedly also said that Schuessel would host a ‘Temelin summit’ in the autumn.
This will only be yet another in a series of similar events held in nuclear-free Austria so far with representatives from the government, federal lands and environmentalist organisations voicing their concerns about the $3 billion power plant situated 80km from the Austrian and 50km from the German border, the news agency said. Temelin, which is to be activated in the autumn and put into commercial use next year, had the first of its two 1,000 megawatt blocks loaded with fuel in July.
The Czech Nuclear Safety Office (SUJB) has reportedly dismissed the safety concerns citing a report based on information exchanged between Czech and German nuclear experts revealing no major problems. According to Ladislav Kriz, spokesperson for Temelin’s investor, Czech power utility group, CEZ, “it will be fully comparable with the safest nuclear power plants in the world regarding its technical design and safety functions. The state inspectors have spent a long time with their foreign – meaning western – partners. Therefore, they know very well the ‘safety culture’ in these countries and do not hesitate to demand it in Temelin NPP”, he said.
Temelin, which combines Russian-designed VVER-1,000 reactors with a ‘western’ control system supplied by Westinghouse, a unit of British Nuclear Fuel Ltd, is the second nuclear power plant in the Czech Republic, after Dukovany, south Moravia, which has been operating since the 1980s.