Czechs to file complaint over surprise EU inspection of Temelin nuclear plant

Temelin nuclear plant

The Czech atomic safety bureau, the SUJB, has said it will file a "diplomatic complaint" against the European Commission in protest of a surprise visit EU inspectors paid to the Temelin nuclear power plant on Wednesday.

The EU team was dispatched by the European Commission general directorate for Transport and Energy in reaction to an equipment failure at the plant on Sunday which caused three cubic metres of radioactive water to leak. The plant was shut down following the incident and Czech authorities have insisted that at no time was the public in any danger.

The mayor of the nearest town to Temelin, Stanislav Helige says area residents were well informed and the incident has been overplayed in the media.

"We've explained this situation to people here and they get the power plant news bulletin ... but people further away aren't given any information and that's why they are afraid".

Inspector Stamatios Tsalas visits Temelin,  photo: CTK
Following the inspection on Wednesday, the EU team said there was no reason to cast doubt on the Czech authorities' assessment of the defect that caused the leak as minor. Stamatios Tsalas, one of the inspectors, said the EU focused on potential leaks that might affect the environment and on steps taken by the facilities to resolve the situation.

For her part, Czech atomic safety bureau chairwoman Dana Drabova said that the EU had never bothered to dispatch a team for such a "minor incident" as Sunday's leak and that as neither of the EU inspectors on hand was an expert in nuclear safety, their mission could only be "political" in nature.

Ms Drabova described the move as related to nervousness or posturing ahead of this weekend's European Parliament elections. She said the Czech atomic safety bureau would send a protest to Brussels "in a diplomatic way".

International environmental pressure groups have long lobbied to close the Soviet-designed nuclear plant, which sits 60 kilometres from the border with Austria.

According to the an inter-governmental agreement known as the Melk process, Temelín has 78 hours to report minor accidents to neighbouring countries. The radioactive water leak was made public on Monday by regional Austrian authorities.