EU team inspects Hungarian nuclear power plant

Nuclear power station at Paks, photo:

A team of experts from the European Commission was in Hungary this week to visit the country's only nuclear power station at Paks, south of Budapest. Their inspection followed a number of incidents at the plant including a shut down of one of its reactors when radioactive gas leaked during the cleaning of fuel rods in April 2003. The EU experts checked the power station's emission-control system and the environmental radiation safety laboratory. Laszlo Kobinger, a senior official in the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority, says the inspection should lay to rest any concerns about the Paks power station:

"The inspection team visited the power plant and the laboratories of the relevant authorities - the laboratories of the Agriculture Ministry, the Health Ministry, and the Interior Ministry. The total team consisted of four experts representing four different countries. At the closing meeting last Friday, they concluded that the system in Hungary is in harmony with the requests of the European Union. The detailed technical report describing all the findings will be released in several months."

So people in Hungary and in neighbouring countries do not have to fear dangers from Paks?

"That's right. The environment is properly monitored and both the atmospheric and liquid releases are followed."

What could have been a problem if the data were not right? What kind of dangers could the power station have posed to its environment?

"The whole mission is not about the safety of the power plant. The problem is that in the case of any abnormality, accident, or incident, there would be no knowledge of the amount of radioactivity released. This gives a basis in the normal condition for the evaluation of the radiation burden of the population and in the case of any incident it helps to determine the risk of the event."

Does the result of this inspection have any effect on the ongoing issue of extending the life span of the power station?

"No it has no relation to the extension of the life span. The final report will conclude with the positive final result but they will surely give us some recommendations to further improve the system and suggest some even more precise methods or systems. We try to use as much of the conclusions as possible."

And what can you say to our listeners abroad about the extension of the life span of the power station?

"It is just in the phase where the owners of the power plant submit all the plans for the life extension and it is now the task of the relevant Hungarian authorities to investigate the case and if it meets all the requirements then we shall give the license and if not then we shall not give it, of course."