Saturday, 19 April 2014

Minister rejects Austrian criticism of Temelín nuke plant

21 January 2013

Prague, Jan 19 (CTK) - Czech Environment Ministry Saturday rejected the Austrian criticism of the approval of the construction of two new units at the nuclear power plant Temelin that the ministry issued on Friday.

The Austrian news agency APA writes that Upper Austrian governor Josef Puehringer Saturday said Upper Austrian authorities will use all means to prevent the extension of the Czech Temelin plant, situated close to the border with the nuclear-free Austria.

The Czech government proved that it has not taken a lesson from Fukushima, Puehringer said, referring to the Japanese massive nuclear disaster caused by an earthquake in 2010.

Czech Environment Minister Tomas Chalupa dismissed the Austrian reservations.

"We insist that the procedure was fair, just, open and fully professional, in accordance with the best world's practice," Chalupa said about the environmental impact assessment (EIA) procedure.

"We have made no mistake. The decision is correct and serious," he added.

Austria's negative stance on Temelin's planned extension has been known from the beginning and the Austrians would not accept any assessment result unless it agreed with their view, Chalupa said.

He said Czech authorities offered Austria more space to express its view of the plant's extension than it would have according to international agreements.

Chalupa said it is Prague, not Vienna, Berlin or Brussels that will decide on the nuclear plant's construction.

On Friday, Chalupa said the assessment of the impacts of Temelin's completion on environment was the most extensive process of its kind in the history of the Czech Environment Ministry. Non-governmental organisations and the public filed over 60,000 comments that had to be settled, he added.

Austrian Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich said on Friday the planned extension of the power plant is a huge step backwards and emphasised that Austrians must be enabled to give their opinion on the project because it directly concerns them.

Berlakovich said the highest possible level of safety of citizens is a clear priority because a nuclear cloud will not stop at any state border.

Upper Austrian politicians have been criticising Temelin for a long time. The Upper Austrian government wanted to sue the Czech majority power utility CEZ, which operates Temelin, for ignoring its reservations about the nuclear plant. The Austrian Supreme Court definitively rejected the complaint last October, however.

The bidders in the tender to extend Temelin, whose estimated value is 200-300 billion crowns, are the Czech-Russian consortium of companies Skoda JS, Atomstroyexport and Gidropress, the U.S.-Japanese company Westinghouse and France's Areva.

Areva was excluded from the tender by CEZ in October last year. But the French company filed an appeal against its exclusion at the UOHS antitrust office.

Construction of the third and fourth unit of Temelin should be completed in 2025 at the latest, according to plans.

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