Czech Temelin Pump Failure Forces Test Scale Back : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

PRAGUE, Oct 28, 2000 -- (Reuters) A pump failure has forced the controversial Czech nuclear power plant Temelin to scale back operational tests and brought renewed calls from neighboring Austria for the plant to be closed.

The plant owner CEZ said in a statement on Friday that there was no threat to the nuclear safety of the plant.

The Soviet-designed station has been conducting tests at very low levels of output since chain reactions were launched two weeks ago amid public protests in Austria and a diplomatic row between Prague and Vienna.

CEZ said it had taken operations back to level three from level two after a circulation pump failed in the control system.

"It (the failure) did not bring about the need for the activation of safety systems nor the automatic activation of the rapid cut-off to the reactor," said plant spokesman Milan Nebesar said in the statement.

"The evaluation, according to the INES international evaluation system - is at the lowest evaluation level - 0. In no case therefore was there a threat to the nuclear safety of the plant operation," Nebesar added.

CEZ plans to raise output to about 30 percent of the plant's capacity - it was at 0.03 percent before the pump failure and currently at zero - in the coming weeks, and reach full capacity in the next four months.

Temelin is just over 50 km (30 miles) from the border with nuclear-free Austria, which says the plant is unsafe and has threatened to block the Czech Republic's negotiations to join the European Union.

Thousands of Austrians blocked border crossings between the two countries before and after the launch in protest at the activation.

Austrian officials reacted sharply to the failure.

"This proves our doubts about Temelin were justified," said Gerhard Popp, spokesman for the environment ministry. He urged a swift and full clarification of the problem by the Czech authorities.

The Czechs say Temelin, equipped with Western control systems, is up to the highest safety standards. Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman is due to meet Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel to discuss Temelin next Tuesday.

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-- Doris (, October 28, 2000

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