Resolution on Temelin to be discussed at European Parliament

With time running out before the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia is due to go on line, opposition to the plant continues. This time, however, the opposition is not from Austria, but from representatives of green parties from around Europe, who have put forward a resolution to the European Parliament to discuss Temelin later this week. Nick Carey has this report:

This is not the first time that the Temelin nuclear power plant has been brought to the attention of the European Parliament. Opposition in Austria to the plant has intensified over the past few years, and last year Austrian representatives managed to have a resolution on the issue debated in the European Parliament. A resolution calling for strict safety standards to be enforced at Temelin was passed during the debate, and up until late last week there was no more discussion on the matter at this level.

As the start date for Temelin is rapidly approaching, the Austrian government and people have redoubled their efforts to try to prevent Temelin from going on line, or at least postpone the start of operations. Last week the Austrian chancellor, Wolfgang Schussel, threatened that Austria could block the Czech Republic's entry to the EU if issues over safety standards at Temelin were not resolved. This was followed by 2,000 protestors from Upper Austria blocking three border crossings into the Czech Republic on Saturday, in order to stress their opposition to Temelin. A recent opinion poll has also shown that more than 90 percent of those Austrians asked stated that Czech EU membership should be made conditional on safety standards at Temelin.

With all this tension on the home front, the Austrian foreign minister, Benita Ferrero-Wagner, tried to persuade the European Parliament to debate an Austrian resolution on Temelin during the current session. Her request was turned down on Friday.

The Green parties represented in the European Parliament then entered the fray on Monday, putting forward a resolution on Temelin. This time the request was successful, and the resolution will be debated this Thursday. The Greens put forward their proposed resolution because, as the head of the Finnish Green Party, Heidi Hautal, said, the situation in Austria over Temelin is very tense, and the European Parliament needs to address the problem. The proposed resolution calls for the Czech government not to put the first reactor at Temelin on line until the impact on the environment has been fully investigated. The Czechs would also be required to provide access locally and internationally to all information about the security of Temelin.

As the European Parliament turned down the Austrian foreign minister's request for a debate last week, and as Austria has not garnered much international support for its efforts to prevent Temelin going on line, it remains to be seen whether the resolution will be passed.