Press Review

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The row over the Temelin nuclear power plant naturally receives front-page treatment in practically all the national papers today. PRAVO dismisses the German environment ministry's assurances that a plant like Temelin could never be put on-line in Germany as a political proclamation, rather than an expert view which should be taken seriously. Although the ministry's nuclear safety chief, Wolfgang Renneberg, is citing research carried out by Germany's nuclear safety watchdog, GRS, this study says nothing new, PRAVO points out. Mr. Renneberg is a bureaucrat, and as such he should refrain from airing private views and politically motivated pseudo-conclusions.

LIDOVE NOVINY reports that the Austrian utility company which completed a wind-powered electricity plant in the town of Geiersberg has decided to donate some of the plant's shares to the Czech environmentalist group South Bohemian Mothers and the Calla movement. The firm's director has indicated that both Czech organisations could use the proceeds to finance their campaign against Temelin.

The economic daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY wonders if the Czech Republic could be threatened by the kind of oil refinery blockade that has been paralysing France for a number of days now. Commentator Martin Denemark thinks this is not likely even though Czech drivers, trucking firms and other businesses are even more worried by imminent fuel price rises than their French colleagues. The mentality is different here and there are also considerable cultural and historical differences between the two nations. While French farmers and truckers have long learned to use democratic freedoms for pressing their demands, Czechs have yet to learn this democratic lesson.

MLADA FRONTA DNES has found out that the more-than-30-minute breakdown of radio communications between air traffic controllers in the Prague International Airport tower and pilots on August 22 was caused by human error. ATC operators, the paper says, failed when attempting to repair the havoc wreaked on electricity supply routes and equipment by a heavy thunderstorm the night before. As they worked, computers flashed scores of operating-error prompts. The technicians confirmed their reception and then, as they could not be bothered to do anything else, reduced these prompts to the size of a small icon in the corner of the computer screen. Then they failed to remove one of the breakdowns, as a result of which radio links were severed. Several flights were delayed, and many incoming flights were put on hold on the outer limits of Czech airspace. Heads won't roll, but those bonuses will go, MLADA FRONTA DNES quotes ATC boss Oldrich Stanek as saying.

Half of all motor vehicles plying Czech roads should have their technical certificates seized at once, reports today's ZEMSKE NOVINY. Experts believe that up to 50 percent of cars in this country do not meet basic technical standards and indeed are well past their projected service life. Also, many of these cars were evidently stolen and their papers forged. The paper says the largest Czech used-car dealer, the firm AAA Auto Praha, buys over 2,000 used cars a month but rejects about the same number of vehicles on offer because of technical hitches and suspect documentation. Another used-car dealer, ESA, rejects at least a quarter of all cars for the same reason. Vehicles which were damaged in road accidents are often in a sorry state of repair, body and frame serial numbers are frequently stamped over, and engines have been visibly tampered with by unauthorised do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Paper forgery has become widespread and leasing contracts are seldom honoured, the paper notes.