Czech nuclear waste deep storage will only be sited where there is local support says ministry

AKW Temelín (Foto: Filip Jandourek, Archiv des Tschechischen Rundfunks)

Nuclear power means nuclear waste and the Czech Republic, like many other European countries, is faced with the headache of where to store the waste long term. A shortlist of seven locations for geological tests for suitable deep storage resulted in howls of protest from most of the citizens and mayors living near the sites. And that has forced a rethink from the ministry and state body piloting the selection process.

Temelín nuclear power plant, photo: Filip Jandourek
The Czech Republic has been producing nuclear power for just over 30 years now with the two plants at Dukovany and Temelín responsible for producing around a third of the country’s electricity. And there are plans to boost that proportion with more plants in the future.

But the high level nuclear waste produced from the process is still being stocked on site at the plants with plans for a deep storage site hitting furious opposition from most of the seven preliminary sites earmarked for geological tests. Five of those sites have launched or allied themselves to legal proceedings aimed at stopping the surveys and sent back millions of crowns in payments aimed at compensating locals for the inconvenience.

Now the Ministry of Industry and Trade says it will bow to the opposition and seek to push ahead with surveys at one locality near Třebíč in Vysočina and another straddling Vysočina and South Moravia.

Minister Jan Mládek said the decision was not a defeat for the ministry:

“I would put it completely differently. We are in the search for consensus because we do not believe that we can build a permanent storage facility for used nuclear fuel in the localities where the municipalities are hostile to this idea. So we are trying to reach a consensus. At the same time, we need the places which are geologically stable, which are good for possible building of permanent storage for nuclear fuel. And we hope in this way we will reach a consensus in a quicker way.”

And do you think there is a real chance that the remaining two localities will accept the idea?

Jan Mládek, photo: CTK
“Yes, because they were the localities that did not start court action against the state. They are not questioning it in this way. On the other hand we cannot simply say it will be those localities because we need to carry out the geological research and find out if they are usable from this technical perspective. And unfortunately as it is in life, from a geological perspective the best locality is in the north of south Bohemia around Jistebnice and probably the most difficult one is that one where there is the most political support. “

What’s the time pressure to get this done - how long can you keep storing it [the waste] at nuclear sites?

“It’s a really long term process and the storage should be built by 2065, but we have milestones and what for us at this moment is very important is that the decision about the location should be decided by the Czech government in 2025. This is a milestone we are targeting, we are not yet about building but about picking the place where it will be built.”