A glitch-plagued Czech nuclear power plant suffered yet another technical problem Friday, even as anger at the reactor flared in neighbouring Austria, where the issue is straining the ruling coalition.
The Soviet-built Temelin plant, barely 60 kilometers (35 miles) from the Austrian border, had to be urgently shut down just hours after powering up to 100 percent capacity, said plant spokesman Milan Nebesar.
"Nuclear security was in now way affected," said Dana Drabova, head of the Czech National Nuclear Safety Office (SUJB), adding that the problem was not necessarily due to the reactor working at 100 percent capacity.
The nuclear plant was first powered up in October 2000, but its commercial launch has been delayed both by repeated technical glitches, and negotiations with Austrian leaders over the start-up.
Early Friday morning the Temelin plant was powered up to 100 percent of its 1,000 Megawatt capacity, in preparation for a series of tests over three weeks, spokesman Frantisek Hezoucky said.
But just hours later an automatic emergency shutdown was triggered by a generator problem, said the spokesman.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel struck a deal with Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman in November to allow the plant to go ahead, but anti-Temelin protestors have remained vociferous.
The far-right Freedom Party, which rules in a fractious coalition with Schuessel's conservative People's Party, has notably spearheaded continuing protests against the power plant.
Next week it is going ahead with a national non-binding referendum on Temelin, threatening to veto Prague's EU membership negotiations, in open defiance of the Austrian chancellor.
Austria voted against nuclear energy in a 1978 referendum. Next week's vote has little legal force, but if more than 100,000 Austrians sign it parliament must debate the poll, although it does not have to act on it.
Before the latest glitch, managers had planned a three-week test period, to be followed by a further three weeks of checks with the reactor powered down, then by a final six-day test before an 18-month test commercial operation.
The plant, originally Soviet-built but updated with security features by US giant Westinghouse, currently only has one reactor powered up, but two further reactors are due to be completed by the end of the year.
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Russian Senate Ratifies Nuclear Cooperation Pact With Iran
Moscow (AFP) Dec 26, 2001
Russia's upper house of parliament Wednesday unanimously ratified a new partnership treaty with Iran which includes cooperating in developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. "Iran remains a strategic partner of Russia," said Mikhail Margelov, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Federation Council, following the vote by 127 senators.
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