News of Radio Prague

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Spolana –emergency measures

Specialists are pumping out tons of dangerous chlorine from the Spolana chemical plant north of Prague, which has become a public threat following serious flood damage. Two chlorine leaks in eight days have alarmed people living in the vicinity and led the government to step in and effect emergency measures. The plan is to pump some 12 to 14 tons of chlorine from a partially submerged tank and convert it into a harmless chemical. The operation is accompanied by strict security measures, with police, ambulances, firefighters and busses on standby for possible evacuations. On Monday Spolana's management sacked its general director Radomir Vek for failing to deal with the crisis. He has been replaced by the General Director of Spolana's parent compay Chemopetrol Miroslav Kuliha.

Spolana on "Company Crimes" blacklist

Greenpeace has included Spolana in its "Company Crimes" report presented at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg. Other companies on the blacklist are the Dutch-British consortium Shell, the German firm Beyer, and Dow Chemicals which is being held responsible for the 1984 tragedy in Bhopal. Greenpeace has expressed grave concern over the activities of Spolana saying that the plant's management has been holding back information on matters that present a serious public threat. Greenpeace has repeatedly highlighted the danger of poisonous dioxins and an estimated 25,000 kilograms of poisonous mercury which are stored at Spolana leaking into the environment.

Man charged with scare-mongering

The man who paralyzed Prague's main airport for hours on Monday with a hoax bomb threat has been charged with scare-mongering. The man, whose name has not been released, was arrested just hours after he made an anonymous phone call, saying he had planted six bombs at Ruzyne airport that were set to explode in 90 minutes. Airport officials immediately suspended all incoming and outgoing flights and evacuated the premises while the police searched the airport. No explosives were found. Dozens of flights were affected on what is reportedly the busiest day of the week for Czech Airlines.

US ambassador seeks aid for Terezin memorial

The US ambassador to Prague Craig Stapleton has said he will ask the Jewish community in the United States to help restore the flood damaged Terezin memorial. Terezin, once the site of a Nazi concentration camp, today a memorial to the thousands of Jews who died there, is in one of the worst affected areas. According to the memorial's director Jan Munk, the damage has been estimated at around 60 million crowns. The US ambassador, who toured the worst hit regions in the wake of the flood, has arranged for some badly needed industrial dryers to be sent to Terezin and said he would try to do more for the memorial. Mr. Stapleton is also investigating other forms of help, including deliveries of vaccines against hepatitis A to the Czech Republic.

Sale of contaminated goods banned

Sales inspectors have issued warnings that they will be slapping steep fines on any flood damaged goods that is put on sale. They have also warned the public against buying contaminated products at cut price. Several cases have been reported of road-side sales of contaminated goods which the health authorities say present a serious health risk. All contaminated products are to be eliminated.

Tourist industry expected to suffer

The devastation wrought by the worst floods in the country's history is expected to hit the tourist industry fairly hard in the coming months. Travel bureaus say that they expect the number of their clients to drop by 70 % in the coming months. There have been plenty of cancellations in the wake of the floods and many tourists are leaving early due to the current problems with public transport and the fact that many popular sites are closed down for clean up work. A revitalization is expected next spring.

Weather

Wednesday should bring partly cloudy to overcast skies with scattered showers and afternoon thunderstorms. Afternoon highs between 22 and 27 degs C.