PR:Minister Mládek fails in the siting process for a deep geological repository

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=> CZECH version of this press release

Press release by Calla and Green Circle dated December 8, 2016 dated January 16, 2017

Minister Mládek fails in the siting process for a deep geological repository

Today, the Government did not approved the legislative intent of the draft Act to strengthen the rights of municipalities in the siting process for a deep geological repository. By postponing the discussion until half of 2018 [1], it has left the problem to the next government. The decision of the government’s cabinet is the fiasco after several years of work of government offices headed by Minister Mládek. Deferred proposal had been prepared by the law firm hired by Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (RAWRA) and been modified by the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s legislators. Draft Act was the result of a compromise agreement that municipalities will not have veto power and in case of dispute, the final verdict on the chosen site for a repository will be issued by the Government only after the consent of the Senate. The entire site selection process should be stopped if the present unsatisfactory legal status is not be changed and clear rules for the siting process for a repository are not set up.

In Prague on January 16, 2017

During the entire election period, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MPO) has failed to make a compromise agreement on the method of site selection for a deep geological repository for radioactive waste. At the same time, Working Group for Dialogue on a Repository (PS Dialog), which consisted of state authorities, mayors, NGOs and associations of the sites concerned, has worked on the Draft Act for many years [2]. The Governmental Council for Energy and Raw Materials Strategy approved the draft Act in September 2015, even the new Atomic Act (2015) guarantees it. However, only today Minister Mládek submitted the draft Act to the Government, which rejected it. Thus, an unresolved task has been passed to Mládek’s successor.

Rejecting an agreed Act is another in a series of unsound steps of the State in this important issue. The State informs about their fundamental steps and turnovers in the siting process for a repository only after they happen. The State gave approval to start geological surveys which was in conflict with the agreed procedure and without the consent of municipalities. Neither PS Dialog, nor municipalities, which are directly concerned, were informed in advance of adding two new sites of EDU-west (west of Dukovany NPP) and ETE-south (south of Temelín NPP) in 2016. The State also refuses to discuss options for solving the problem of nuclear waste other than their permanent deep geological repository. However, public debate about alternatives should be an essential part of the ongoing process of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) process on Updating the National programme for radioactive waste and spent nuclear waste management. For more than a year, however, MPO fails to provide the necessary documentation [3].

Mayors and associations keep losing confidence in the state and most of them have already left the PS Dialog. Instead, they have founded the Platform Against Deep Repository and continue negotiating with the State. At the end of 2016, non-governmental organizations associated in the Green Circle also withdrew their representatives from PS Dialog [4].

Edvard Sequens of Calla said: "Today, the Government has just performed a show like from the TV series: "Yes, Prime Minister". It has decided to set up an expert commission and set a deadline far after the election. For years to come, this will allow it to promise to municipalities that it is working to resolve things without really resolving them."

"Minister Brabec surprised by its request to ensure the right of veto for the municipalities, which his office has not imposed in any way until now. However, mayors will certainly take this public promise seriously, considering that the similar veto is in function in Sweden and Finland."

Daniel Vondrouš of Green Circle said: "Today's flop of the Minister Mládek is another blow to the credibility of the State in solving the problem of radioactive waste management. Nevertheless, we believe that the next government will be able to cope with their responsibilities better"

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Green Circle is an association that brings together 26 major environmental non-governmental organizations operating in the Czech Republic. The Association is dedicated to the general monitoring of laws and policies, it coordinates legislative campaigns and provides active support with advocacy activities which focus on maintaining a quality environment and high level of civil rights in decision-making processes. It is engaged in long-term issue of public participation in decisions on plans and projects with impact on the environment. Green Circle also deals with coordinating the selection of non-governmental and female experts in interdisciplinary working groups and advisory boards and commissions of the Government and coordinates the establishment of joint observations, positions and public statements of environmental organizations about significant situations in environmental protection.

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