News Monday, OCTOBER 09th, 2000

By: Daniela Lazarova

CNEA makes a final inspection of Temelin

A team of experts from the Czech Nuclear Energy Agency has been making a final inspection of the Temelin nuclear power plant prior to issuing permission to activate. Its decision should be announced later today.

The power utility CEZ said earlier that the plant was ready for activation and it could begin the nuclear reaction some 20 hours after receiving the green light. Temelin is expected to remain in trial operation for several months. During that time the environment ministry will complete a study on Temelin's impact on the environment. This is stipulated by Czech law and is one of the factors which will be taken into account when it comes to giving the plant final project certification. Only then can it go into commercial operation.

Austrian appeals for Temelin's launch to be stopped have been rejected

The Czech government has rejected Austrian pleas for the plant's activation to be postponed until all safety-related issues had been clarified. Government spokesman Libor Roucek said Temelin adhered to strict international safety norms and would be made operational.

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel made an urgent last-minute appeal to his Czech counterpart Milos Zeman on Sunday asking him to stop the plant's activation while there was still time. "Security concerns do not stop at the border" Mr. Schussel said, expressing regret that two letters he had sent to the Czech Prime Minister regarding Temelin had gone unanswered.

He once again warned the Czech Republic that Temelin's activation could hurt it's attempts to join the European Union , noting that the conclusion of the energy chapter of Czech-EU negotiations would not be possible without prior clarification of Temelin-related safety issues.

Meanwhile, anti-nuclear activists from Upper Austria are continuing their protests in the hope of swaying the Czech government's decision. The CTK news agency says dozens of them braved the cold and rain, spending the night in sleeping-bags at the Wullowitz border crossing . The blockade of that check point has caused huge pile ups and traffic police have been re-routing traffic to other crossings.

Medical Chamber promises greater flexibility in dealing with complaints

The Czech Medical Chamber has promised greater flexibility in dealing with patients' complaints in the future. The Medical Chamber's president Mr. David Rath told reporters that in future patients' complaints would be resolved within six months at the latest. This decision follows severe criticism from the Association of Patients which has repeatedly complained that such cases drag on for years. A spokesman for the Patients Association heard Mr. Rath's assurances with open scepticism saying he'd "wait to see it to believe it".

Animal rights activists demonstrate at steeplechase

Some 50 animal rights activists turned out to demonstrate against the Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase, the horse racing event of the year in the Czech Republic. They insist that some of the hurdles in the race place too great a strain on the horses and border on cruelty. Although the demonstrators attempted to dissuade visitors from taking part in what they described as "animal exploitation for amusement and profit" they made no attempt to interfere with the race itself. The last serious disturbance at the Velka Pardubicka Steeplechase happened in 1992, when a number of animal rights activists broke ranks and raced onto the track ostensibly to try and stop the race. This resulted in a pile up and several bad accidents for both jockeys and animals. The organizers of the event, which has a century-long tradition, have gone for very tight security since that incident.

Cancer Awareness Week

In cooperation with the media, Czech doctors are launching Cancer Awareness Week. Medical specialists are hoping to raise public awareness of the need for prevention, regular check-ups and what medicine has to offer in terms of a cure in the present day. Special emphasis is being placed on some of the risk factors involved especially a poor diet and smoking. Doctors believe that many Czechs actively contribute to their health problems by eating a high-fat diet of red-meat and rich sauces and very little fruit and vegetables. Comparative studies indicate that this is indeed the case. Anti-smoking campaigns likewise have very little effect and many smokers have no trouble getting through one or two packs of cigarettes a day.

Finally, a look at the weather:

No significant change there. Monday is expected to bring more gray skies and drizzle with day temps between 9 and 13 degs C. Nighttime lows between 5 and 9 degs C.