Greenpeace rejects Melk environmental impact assessment on Temelin

AKW Temelin

Late last year the prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Austria met in the Austrian town of Melk to resolve a bitter dispute over the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant. The leaders emerged from talks with the so-called Melk Agreement: Prague would allow an environmental impact assessment on Temelin - overseen by Austria, Germany and the European Commission - before the plant goes into commercial operation. Well on Tuesday the results of that assessment were made public, and the study appears to give Temelin the thumbs-up.

The report says Temelin's impact on the environment will be "negligible and acceptable", adding that there is no risk to the populations of the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. But the environmental lobby is far from satisfied, as Jan Haverkamp is from the Czech branch of Greenpeace told Radio Prague's Rob Cameron:

Jan Haverkamp: No. If you would do a real assessment of all environmental consequences of any nuclear power plant, no nuclear power plant would be able to pass the test. The fact that nuclear power plants do pass these kind of environmental impact assessments is because certain parts of the environmental influence of nuclear power plants are counted out. In the case of this environmental impact assessment it's very obviously parts of the fuel cycle - that means the whole part of fuel production - is not part of the this environmental impact assessment. The part concerning nuclear waste storage is only indicated in a very rough way and it's more or less assumed in this environmental impact assessment that there is a solution, which there still is not. And we have to be very clear about that; there is no solution for nuclear waste anywhere in the world.

Radio Prague: Nonetheless though, this was a study which had been agreed by the Austrian and the Czech governments. There were Czech officials and Austrian experts and representatives from Germany and the European Union...

JH: ...wait a minute - there were no Austrian experts. There were Austrian and German observers, but there were no Austrian experts involved in drawing up the environmental impact assessment...

RP: ...but nonetheless this was something agreed by Prague and Vienna, and it was designed to resolve the dispute between the two countries about Temelin. Surely if the study says it's safe, then it's safe.

JH: Well, that's a very fast conclusion which I definitely will not share with you. If somebody says it's safe, it is not safe in practice. Basically, nuclear power plants are not safe. I've read this study and what I've seen is that even if you look at this study from the point of view of the European guidelines, it doesn't meet the guidelines which are set up by the European Union...And you're talking by a very long stretch in time. You're talking not about 25 years running time of the Temelin nuclear power station. You're about roughly 100,000 years of safe storage of the nuclear waste which it is generating. And if I see that there are 1,726 tonnes or something of heavily radioactive nuclear waste coming out, and 'that will be taken care of' - full stop - and nothing more. They are failing very basic things to be able to say whether a nuclear power plant like this is safe. The other point is that this is not a safety analysis. There is a negligible influence on the environment, but there is no conclusion about the safety of nuclear power.

RP: but the study does say there's absolutely no risk to the populations of the Czech Republic, Germany or Austria.

JH: Look at the scenarios that they have been looking at - several minor accident scenarios and probable safety analysis which is more or less a mathematical procedure to find out where the weak points of the nuclear power station can be. But there are no detailed worked out scenarios.