Anti-nuclear protesters block Czech borders with Austria

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PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Hundreds of anti-nuclear protesters blocked border points between Austria and the Czech Republic on Friday, demanding that activation of the reactors at a Czech nuclear plant be halted, local media reported.

The blockades stopped traffic at most border crossings between the two countries. Austrian radio reported no incidents during the roadside protest, which ended Friday evening.

Protesters from Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic are demanding Czech officials meet with them to discuss delaying activation of the Temelin plant, located near the border with Austria. The demonstrators say the plant does not meet safety standards.

But most EU governments have said nothing against the power station, and chances that Austrian protests can delay or even stop activation of the reactor are slim.

In a new development Friday, Temelin spokesman Pavel Pitterman said one steam generator valve test failed Thursday. He did not say whether the incident would mean a delay in the plant's start-up.

''We want the Czech side to stop activation of Temelin for six months. During this time the safety and environmental damage should be tested,'' Josef Puehringer, the governor of Upper Austria province who has put himself repeatedly at the head of the anti-nuclear protest, told the CTK news agency.

Czech Minister of Environment Milos Kuzvart is to meet his Austrian counterpart Wilhelm Molterer on Saturday to discuss the controversial plant, an official said Thursday.

The Temelin plant, located 90 miles south of Prague and 30 miles north of the border with non-nuclear Austria, is scheduled to be fully activated by early October.

Austrians voted against using nuclear energy in 1978 and remain vehemently opposed to it, citing safety concerns.

No major disruption of traffic was reported at the crossing points, although the blockades are taking place during the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the Czech capital Prague.


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