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Nando Times

Criticized Czech nuclear plant resumes operation

The Associated Press

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (February 25, 2001 7:29 a.m. EST - A Czech nuclear plant that has spurred protests in neighboring Austria resumed operation Sunday, more than a month after it was shut down due to technical problems.

Spokesman Milan Nebesar said workers at the plant in Temelin restarted the reactor at 3:20 a.m. Sunday after receiving permission from the State Office for Nuclear Safety. The reactor's output Sunday was one-half of a percent of the plant's capacity, he said.

The power plant was shut down on Jan. 18 because of vibrations in the main turbine generator. Previous malfunctions triggered automatic shutdowns twice in December.

The Temelin plant, located some 31 miles north of the Austrian border, is still going through testing. The project has long been a source of friction between the two countries.

When the reactor was turned on in October, it triggered protests by politicians and environmentalists in Austria, which does not use nuclear power. Austrian activists repeatedly blockaded the Czech border.

Construction of the 2,000-megawatt, Russian-designed plant was started in 1980 and upgraded by technology provided by Westinghouse in the 1990s.

The Czech Republic already operates one Soviet-designed, 1,760-megawatt plant built in the mid-1980s near Dukovany, some 125 miles east of Prague.

-- Rachel Gibson (, February 25, 2001


New Shutdown for Glitch-Plagued Czech Nuclear Plant

PRAGUE, Mar 8, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) A glitch-plagued Czech nuclear plant which is fiercely disputed by neighboring Austria was shut down again Thursday for work to reduce vibrations, a spokesman said.

The Temelin plant, 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the Austrian border, will be powered down for about a week for the latest work to modify valves in its secondary circuit, said spokesman Milan Nebesar.

Czech firm Skoda Energo, the main supplier of equipment for the originally Soviet-built plant, will modify three valves to try to reduce persistent vibrations, he said.

The Temelin plant has suffered repeated problems and shutdowns since it was first powered up last October despite protests by the Austrian government and a border blockade mounted by Austrian ecologists.

Its most recent and longest closure was from January 17 to 25, when engineers made modifications to one valve and succeeded in reducing vibrations by 80 percent, said the spokesman.

But the vibrations appear to be causing serious problems.

Eliminating them is "a long-term task," the head of the national nuclear energy safety agency, Dana Drabova, said recently. "Experts have been asked to find a solution."

Construction of the Temelin plant was begun in the 1980s, but was only finished in the 1990s after extensive modifications and additions following the 1989 collapse of communism.

Austria at one stage threatened to block Prague's EU membership negotiations over the Temelin plant, but signed an accord last December agreeing to allow it to start up, but not before safety and environmental studies have been carried out.

-- Doris (, March 10, 2001.

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