Czech PM offers Germany public debate on nuclear plant
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said Wednesday he had proposed to Germany a public debate on the controversial construction of two new units at the southern Czech nuclear Temelin power station.
"We have nothing to hide from our neighbours, we will be as transparent as can be," Necas told reporters after a cabinet meeting, adding he had offered the debate, to be held in Germany, in a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Necas, whose centre-right government is strongly pro-nuclear, said he was also ready to offer a debate to neighbouring Austria -- something sought by that country's anti-nuclear activists, according to Czech Radio.
Non-nuclear Austria has been highly critical of the plant, situated only some 60 kilometres (38 miles) from its border.
"We have made the offer to Germany and if Austria is interested in a similar step, we have no reason to treat them differently," Necas said.
"On the other hand, we expect our neighbours to respect the Czech Republic's decision to go ahead with the nuclear plant programme," he added.
The Czech government last month officially asked US energy giant Westinghouse, Russia's Atomstroiexport and France's Areva for bids to build the two new reactors at Temelin. The winner is due to be announced in 2013.
The government expects the project estimated to be worth 20 billion euros ($28 billion) to be finished around 2025.
Planned in the communist era and launched in 2000, the existing Temelin facility includes two Russian-type VVER pressurised-water reactors, each with an output of 1,000 megawatts.
Run by state-controlled power giant CEZ, Temelin and the other Czech nuclear power plant -- Dukovany in the southeast -- together produce one-third of the total Czech power output.
After the two units are built at Temelin, which lies about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Prague, the share of nuclear power is expected to rise to 50 percent.
Besides the expansion of Temelin and the potential construction of a new unit at Dukovany, the Czech government has raised the possibility of building a third plant in Blahutovice in the northeast in around 2040.
© 2011 AFP