Temelin shutdowns "normal part of testing process"

A spokesman for the controversial Temelin nuclear power station in South Bohemia has said a series of automatic shutdowns at the plant are a normal part of the plant's ongoing testing procedures and do not reflect any inherent flaws. The plant has been temporarily shut down four times since the first of its two reactors was launched for testing in October. The reactor is scheduled to reach full power early this year, and the second reactor is set for start-up next autumn. The spokesman said Sunday's shutdown was triggered by a problem with regulators that control the flow of water to the plant's four steam generators. Previous shutdowns have been blamed on pump and computer malfunctions. Temelin, located close to the Austrian border, has been the target of ongoing protests by Austrian authorities and anti-nuclear activists. They say its combination of Soviet-era design and western safety controls is dangerous, charges with the Czech government denies. As part of a recent agreement between the Czech and Austrian governments, the plant will undergo a thorough environmental assessment before it can be placed in full operation.