Austrian Environment Minister explains lack of presence at Temelin hearing

Austria's Environment Minister has explained why Austrian representatives failed to attend a public hearing into the Temelin nuclear power plant on Wednesday, saying the hearing was not in line with the environmental assessment process agreed between Prague and Vienna. Wilhelm Molterer said Wednesday's hearing, in the South Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice, had taken place despite growing alarm in Austria over technical problems during testing at the plant. Mr Molterer said the testing phase should be halted due to persistent problems with a turbine. On Tuesday Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel said his government did not consider the environmental impact study on Temelin, agreed between Prague and Vienna last year, a sufficient guarantee of safety. An unnamed source at the Czech Foreign Ministry told the Czech News Agency that Prague was preparing a sharply-worded response to Austria's criticism of the environmental impact study.

Anti-Temelin activists to hold major protest on Friday

A spokesman for Austria's anti-nuclear committee has said a major demonstration is being planned for this Friday at the Wullowitz border crossing between Austria and the Czech Republic. The demonstration will commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, but will also highlight problems involving Temelin. Politicians and well-known personalities from the arts world are expected to address the rally and the organisers say that they cannot rule out "spontaneous blockades" of the border. A series of border blockades over Temelin earlier this year led to strained relations between Prague and Vienna, with the Czech side claiming the Austrian authorities were not doing enough to stop them.