Russia’s Rosatom excluded from Dukovany power plant tender

Dukovany nuclear power plant

The Czech government issued a resolution on Monday which excludes the Russian state corporation Rosatom from the Dukovany power plant tender. The decision comes in the aftermath of recently surfaced evidence that suggests Russia’s military intelligence was involved in the 2014 explosion at the munitions storage facility in Vrbětice.

The Czech government has been planning to expand one of the country’s two nuclear power plants - Dukovany - for several years now. The aim is to construct a new bloc (referred to as Dukovany II) which should help wean the Czech Republic off coal and meet the European Union’s environmental goals. One of the companies vying to win the EUR 6 billion tender has been Rosatom, a Russian state corporation founded by Vladimir Putin in 2007.

However, on Monday, the Czech government decided to issue a resolution excluding Rosatom from the tender.

Karel Havlíček | Photo: Office of Czech Government

Industry and Trade Minister Karel Havlíček said that the decision was made in light of recently released evidence connecting the Russian military intelligence service GRU to the 2014 explosion at the Czech munitions storage facility in Vrbětice, which claimed the lives of two people.

“In light of the current situation, as well as the fact that we have an upcoming security assessment of prospective suppliers for Dukovany II, the government unanimously voted in favour of limiting the security assessment only to suppliers from France, South Korea and the United States.”

Rosatom has been in the spotlight for several years now. Not only the opposition, but also leading Czech officials, including the former Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček and the head of the civilian counterintelligence service, Martin Koudelka, have warned against a Russian company being involved in the construction of critical state infrastructure. Similar warnings also came from important Czech allies, such as the United States.

Others, most prominently Czech President Miloš Zeman, have stressed that the risk is justifiable and that prospective suppliers should be evaluated merely on the price and technical parameters of their product.

Dana Drábová | Photo: Jana Trpišovská,  Czech Radio

However, the danger was also partly highlighted by the head of the State Office for Nuclear Safety Dana Drábová in an interview for Czech Radio’s flagship station Radiožurnál on Monday.

“You can never separate energy, especially nuclear energy, from geopolitics...I do not consider the Russian Federation as an ideal partner based on its current ruling regime under the leadership of Vladimir Putin. However, it is my agency’s role to be completely neutral on this issue and focus purely on technical issues realted to nuclear energy.”

The government decision means that the only companies currently left in the tender are France’s EDF, South Korea’s KHNP and Westingouhe from the United States.