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The BBC's Ray Furlong in Prague
"This is the second malfunction since Temelin was launched"
 real 28k

Saturday, 18 November, 2000, 17:42 GMT
Czech nuclear reactor shuts down
Temelin nuclear plant
The Czech authorities have not said why the reactor shut down.
One of the Soviet-designed reactors at the controversial Czech nuclear power station at Temelin has shut down during tests.

A spokesman for the plant, Milan Nebesar, said that the reactor posed no security threat and shut down "in line with operational regulations" while its cooling system was being tested.

"There was no accident and no anomaly," he added.

Map
But he did not say why the automatic emergency procedure had gone into action.

The plant started operations a month ago, and was working at 2% of capacity when it shut down.

It is expected to reach that level again shortly, Mr Nebesar said.

The malfunction is the second since commissioning, the first being a pump failure which led to a scaling back of output.

Protests

Mr Nebesar said that a detailed account of the latest incident had been given to the authorities in neighbouring Austria.

Environmental protesters
Protesters blockaded Austrian-Czech border crossings
Temelin has caused friction between the Czech Republic and its western neighbours Germany and Austria because of its close proximity to them, just 60 km from the respective borders.

Many Austrians believe that the plant is unsafe and recently blockaded several border crossings with the Czech Republic in protest.

The Austrian Government has also been threatening to hold up the Czech Republic's entry into the European Union.

And German Environment Minister Juergen Tritten has expressed reservations about the plant's emergency safety mechanisms.

Redesigned

Originally conceived by the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia, the plant was delayed by safety and environmental concerns following the 1989 revolution.

Opponents of the plant point out that its original design is similar to that of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine, the site of a serious nuclear accident in 1986.

But the plant was redesigned to Western safety standards in the early 1990s, following international inspections.

It is expected to provide 20% of the Czech Republic's power by 2002.

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See also:

05 Nov 00 | Europe
Austria fails to stop blockade
14 Oct 00 | Europe
Austria eases nuclear protest
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