Problematic Dukovany Nuclear Power Plant

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=> CZECH version of this article

Despite the fact that the September report called "Four years after Fukushima: Are Nuclear Power Plants Safer?" by Oda Becker and Patricia Lorenz recommends “shutting down Dukovany NPP immediately” and is certainly against the PLEX (Plant Life Extension), the very opposite is happening in the Czech Republic. Some politicians, the Energetické Třebíčsko (ET) Association and the Governors of South Moravia and Vysočina Region support the efforts of CEZ for an extension of the operation of all existing blocks Dukovany. At the same time, the same politicians are trying to modify the amendment to the Building Act and the Public Procurement Act in order to speed up the construction process of a new fifth unit at Dukovany NPP. As a matter of fact, a new subsidiary Dukovany II. is supposed to be created which would make an application for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for not just one, but for two new blocks at Dukovany, this autumn of 2015.

ET Association also commissioned a study entitled "Scenarios for the future development of the micro-region in the vicinity of Dukovany nuclear power plant, using a method of Territorial Impact Assessment (TIA)" by Martin Ouředníček et al., with the financial support available from the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TAČR) and ET Association as a co-investigator. The aim of this two-year project was to support the thesis that in event of the closure of Dukovany NPP there would be a social and economic collapse. However, principal investigator of the project Ouředníček and his colleagues in October refute these concerns by saying that Dukovany NPP’s shutdown would not cause all companies in the region to go bankrupt and would not cause one hundred percent unemployment rate for workers made redundant due to NPP’s closure.

Against Dukovany NPP’s life extention are also problems with long planned and unplanned outages in the past three months. The planned shutdown of the first block from the end of August (which was initially meant to last only until the end of October) was joined by unplanned shutdown of the reactors 2 and 3 from mid-September for the purpose of technical check-ups on the pipeline welding. The documentation of the quality of welds is troublesome because it is insufficient. Even worse, Director of State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) Dana Drábová admitted in an interview for Lidové noviny on November 4 that the external company, which was outsourced by ČEZ, falsified X-ray images of weld joints at Dukovany NPP. At present, new radiographs of weld joints are being acquired in the nuclear and non-nuclear parts of those two blocks. Since mid-September, only Block 4 has been in operation [A/N: as of October 5], although its planned outage was announced by the ČEZ for the period between October 24 and November 13 in exchange for Block 1, which was to be, according to the Czech Press Agency, put back into operation on October 26. Besides the problems with Dukovany NPP, the second block of Temelín NPP had been shut down for 11 days (from September 10 to 21) due to adjusting the blades of the oil seal of bearing supports for the turbogenerator in the non-nuclear section of NPP.

Regarding problems with the ČEZ’s plans to build new blocks at Dukovany, the process of EIA needs to be started for those. But without the statement by the Building Authority, the process of EIA can not begin. ČEZ has been waiting for the opinion of the Building Authority more than 4 months, even though the statutory period for processing the application is 30 days. Building Authority refuses to deal with the request of the ČEZ Group with reference to the amendment to the Building Act from January 1, 2013, which states that the Ministry for Regional Development issues zoning “for the buildings which are related to the storage of radioactive waste containing natural radionuclides and buildings which belong to the operating units that are part of a nuclear facility." And that is why the politicians seek to modify the amendment to the Building Act, as mentioned at the beginning.

Olga Kališová*, Calla (November 6, 2015)