Temelin remains in the headlines


Temelin, the nuclear power station in South Bohemia is still in the headlines and, it seems, will remain there for some time to come. Olga Szantova reports on the latest developments around the plant which, Czech authorities say, is absolutely safe, a statement questioned by activists in neighbouring Austria and Germany.

Temelin's safety is not being questioned only by activists. After Austria, Germany has spoken up on the issue. First the German environment ministry expressed its hopes that Temelin would not be made operational. The Czech cabinet refused to discuss the issue, because it has repeatedly stressed that Czech experts, on the basis of numerous tests, have no doubts about the plant's safety. This, is in spite of the fact that the plant is currently closed for repairs due to some technical problems not related to the nuclear core of the power station. And then, over the weekend, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer expressed his doubts about the safety of the plant. Talking to journalists, Mr.Fischer commented on the Czech cabinet's attitude towards German criticism. There is no reason for the Czechs to be insulted by the criticism, he said, there is nothing unusual about two partners having different views on matters. And the German attitude about Temelin has nothing to do with its stand on the Czech Republic's joining the European Union. Those are two separate issues, he stressed.

Austrian environment minister Wilhelm Molterer has expressed the same attitude. Temelin will not prevent the Czech Republic's EU accession, he told reporters. He did, however, stress that the process agreed by Czech and Austrian representatives at Melk, has not been completed. In accordance with that agreement the Czech side has presented a report on the possible ecological impact of Temelin, but, he said, the report was in Czech and had to be translated. At the same time Austrian and German experts are working on their own assessment of the impact of Temelin and their report will be ready by the end of the year. Discussions must continue, he stressed, even though Wilhelm Molterer recognised that the final decision lies with the Czech government, a sovereign country which has the full right to choose its sources of electric energy.

Meanwhile the authorities in Upper Austria, which borders on the Czech Republic, have decided to take the Czech Electricity Works, which owns Temelin, to court over charges of possible consequences of a severe fault at the nuclear power station. It has already commissioned a lawyer to represent Upper Austria in the case. Which is reminiscent of whatever happened to the lawsuit against Temelin announced by American lawyer Edward Fagan, representing Austrian anti-nuclear activists. He made loud statements about his cause, then visited Temelin and received all the documents he asked for, left Vienna to prepare his case, which he promised would be made public by the end of June. He has not been heard from since. We'll have to wait and see what the results of this latest law suit threat will be.

Author: Olga Szantová
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