Greenpeace members sued for spreading false alarm

Greenpeace against Temelin

The Czech branch of Greenpeace has claimed to have found another defect in the Temelin nuclear power plant. The organization says that a pipe, running close to the first reactor, was secretly repaired seven years ago, and that a badly welded seam could cause a nuclear disaster. Alena Skodova has the details:

Greenpeace against Temelin
Temelin's operator, the CEZ electricity company, has sued several Greenpeace activists for allegedly spreading false alarm. But Greenpeace is sticking to its claims, as its Czech director, Jiri Tutter, told me:

"We don't really understand why they are suing us, because what we are saying is what really happened - that is the police investigation we asked for about one year ago was obviously mislead and the police investigated a different pipe from the one we indicated or better our witness indicated as the one where the repair on the primary cooling circuit was conducted seven years ago. When we questioned the regulatory body, the nuclear state office about that, they refused to give us an inspection protocol from the inspection they did themselves. And finally, they also refused to give us evidence number of such a protocol and we know that this protocol exists. It was confirmed to us by the SUJB that the protocol exists - later than they said they did not have its reference number and recently they even said to us that such inspection never happened."

The state-run CEZ naturally rejects Greenpeace's claims and has accused its members of trying to frighten the public. The state Nuclear Safety Office, that oversees nuclear safety in the Czech Republic, takes the same view. Its spokesman said that during thorough inspections of the pipe concerned, no flaws had been found. So I asked Mr. Tutter where their information had come from?

"That information came from a witness who approached us about one and a half years ago after he realised that we were active in this issue, and he told us the story. Of course we did not go out with it immediately, but we had checked properly. We consulted it with several experts, it was a sort of crossfire investigation whether he was telling the truth, whether it was realistic, we also tried to find out whether it actually posed any problem - maybe everything is O.K. if the repair was well conducted technically, but we wanted to be sure and only after we felt that we could go out with that, we did."

Greenpeace now claims to have a clear evidence of serious defects in the plant, and has sent the allegations to the European Commission and to the International Atomic Energy Agency based in Vienna, which recently declared Temelin ready for safe operation. Greenpeace hopes that the report will provide fresh ammunition for Austrian critics of the plant, which is located near the Czech-Austrian border. But it looks unlikely that their latest claims will have any major impact. Earlier this week the Czech Republic successfully concluded the energy chapter essential for the country to join the European Union, after the Czech government and CEZ had agreed to tighter safety measures at Temelin. On Wednesday trial operation at Temelin was increased to 75 percent of full capacity, and it seems only a matter of time before the plant is fully integrated into the Czech national grid.