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Industry News

Czech Prime Minister Rebuffs Austria on Temelin

LCG, Oct. 16, 2000Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman on Saturday said his country would ignore Austrian protests over the start-up of the Temelin nuclear power plant located about 35 miles from the border with Austria.

"Generation of electricity in nuclear power plants "is firmly implanted in Europe," Zeman said.

Austrian protesters, their ranks swelled by anti-nuke activists such as Greenpeace, have blockaded border crossing points for more than a week, but Zeman said simply "I don't believe the demonstrations will change anything.

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schssel has threatened the Czech Republic with reprisal by blocking its entry into the European Union, but those threats have been ignored in Prague and discounted elsewhere in Europe.

Over the weekend, Austria said it would suspend electricity imports from the Czech Republic to show disapproval of the Temelin start-up, but that too had little effect. "It is not a good decision," Zeman said, "but even so it is not of major importance."

Weary of protesters chanting that their Soviet-designed plant was unsafe, Temelin officials on Friday had printed and distributed about 5,000 German language leaflets pointing out that the plant had been brought up to Western standards. Westinghouse of the U.S. and others had been contracted with to provide a replacement reactor core, totally new control and safety systems, new electrical cabling and other improvements.

One observer said the problem with Austria was Vienna fails to understand that it is no longer seat of an Austro-Hungarian Empire stretching from Poland to Greece and from the Swiss Alps to the Carpathians.

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