Czech Republic: Welcome in the nuclear state!

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Public participation in nuclear projects

The Czech Republic is steadily becoming an atomic state. Although many countries decided to reduce their nuclear programs, the Czech Republic has plans to build new nuclear reactors - in spite of the fact that nobody knows how and who will finance it - and to extend the operation of the old ones. Above that the nuclear lobby - including the State Office of the Nuclear Safety (SONS) - try to reduce the public participation in all nuclear projects - nuclear waste deep depository, construction of new nuclear reactors, extension of the operation of old nuclear reactors - (PLEX) as much as possible.

Examples:

Implementation amendment of the EIA Act – EIA process becomes more and more formal

Unfortunately, this amendment is one that means a restriction on the public participation in permitting of nuclear facilities under the Nuclear Act. The Nuclear Act has been dropped from the list of associated procedures. Ultimately, this means that judicial defence will be impossible in proceedings following an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process made in accordance with the Nuclear Act. Unfortunately, there is no way to appeal against the EIA process as such. Moreover, the authority will not be bound by EIA position statement requirements when permitting the location of a nuclear facility. The amendment has been pushed by the State Office for Nuclear Safety.

PLEX – no chance for the public participation

It is a really absurd situation if the public has no chance to participate in the PLEX procedure. The longer the operation will be, the stronger the influence on the environment off course will be. In spite of this fact the EIA Act does not permit to assess PLEX.

Czech NGOs and international NGOs as well try to change this. At the national level South Bohemian Mothers association are fighting to become participant of the PLEX of the second nuclear reactor in Dukovany NPP. Our complaint is now at the Municipal Court in Prague and we are waiting for their decision. If they rejected our complaint then our next step will be the appeal to the Supreme Court and then (if necessary) the appeal to the Constitutional Court. The next steps (if needed) will be legal steps at the international level similar as we have done together with the other international NGOs OEKOBUERO, Global 2000 and Aarhus-Convention Initiative last October. We put the complaint to the ESPOO Aarhus Committee in Geneva concerning the public participation in the Dukovany licence - there are permissions from the year 2007 when the operator asked for the new licence for the next 10 years of operation.

Considering how the permit for a continued operation of the old nuclear reactors of Dukovany NPP has been issued for the operator this year, it is more than obvious that enforcing public control is very important: the Dukovany nuclear power plant (JEDU) is operated in a condition that does not conform to the state of the art in science and technology - thin walls of the reactor building, location of the spent fuel pool, no containment, only a so-called barbotage systém - and it does not take into account relevant new information about risks, such as cyber attacks. The entire permit does not contain a single mention that the nuclear power plant is secured against the increasing risk of cyber attacks. In spite of all above mentioned facts SONS - the entire process involves the operator only and the decision is made by SONS - gave the decision to continue the operation of unit 2 for the operator for an indefinite period of time. The decision specifies a number of requirements that the operator has to meet in future. This is an absolutely absurd situation, because many of the requirements should have been met a long time ago, and the Office should have issued the permit only based on their compliance. They include a solution to the issue of resistance of the superaccident supply pumping station, the spent fuel pool cooling system, and the important technical water system. We think that it is irresponsible to operate this obsolete nuclear power plant for another 10 years in a time of realistic danger of a terrorist attack, or to consider operating it for 60 years.

Do you want information from CEZ company? Bad luck!

In July 2017, the Constitutional Court ruled that the mostly state-owned energy giant ČEZ does not have to provide information according to the Act on Free Access to Information, because publication of contracts and other information might harm the business of ČEZ. A 2016 ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court stated that ČEZ must not keep information secret but the Constitutional Court has an opposite view. The Constitutional Court also added that the problem it has created with its ruling can be rectified easily. It should be done by a law that will define exactly what is a public institution, which has an obligation to provide information by law. That list could include ČEZ. Nevertheless, it is not clear when such a law will be passed.


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