Nuclear safety authority to present report on Temelin faults

Temelin nuclear power plant

The Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia never seems to leave the front pages. It is criticised on a regular basis by the Czech Republic's fiercely anti-nuclear neighbour Austria as well as domestic opponents of atomic energy. They say it's dangerous because it combines western operating technology with old Soviet design. Two leaks of slightly radioactive cooling liquid in recent weeks prompted Industry Minister Martin Riman to call for a personal meeting with the heads of Temelin's operator CEZ and the State Authority for Nuclear Safety.

Heads did not roll on Thursday as some had perhaps expected, including Environment Minister Martin Bursik of the Green Party who had called for the dismissal of the head of the nuclear safety authority, Dana Drabova. Mr Bursik was also present at the meeting on Thursday and said Ms Drabova should be held accountable for Temelin's technical faults. Industry and Trade Minister Martin Riman disagrees and says Temelin is safe.

"The events had no effect on nuclear safety. They did not occur during the operation of the power station but during a planned downtime. They were caused by human error. As a result the station management and CEZ management adopted a set of measures. They are part of a broader system of safety measures at the Temelin nuclear power plant."

Nevertheless, the four participants of Thursday's meeting agreed that the power company CEZ and the State Authority for Nuclear Safety would submit a comprehensive report in a month's time listing all the technical faults at Temelin since it began operating and also the reactions of the nuclear safety authority to them. Environment Minister Martin Bursik says the report will show how efficient the body is.

Martin Riman,  Dana Drabova,  Martin Bursik,  photo: CTK
"An overall assessment of the functioning of the nuclear safety body, its independence, its professionalism and above all the authority it can assert over the CEZ power company cannot be done on the basis of one or two events but we need an overview of all the faults that have occurred at Temelin."

In a month's time, government ministers will discuss the Temelin report and decide on potential personnel changes. The head of the State Authority for Nuclear Safety, Dana Drabova, says she is prepared to accept the cabinet's decision.

"I agree with Deputy PM Bursik that it is necessary for us to be able to show and defend the results of our work. The submission of the report will be a good opportunity for that. If we succeed, we'll be glad and if we fail it will be up to the government to decide what steps to take."