The construction of the third and fourth reactors at the Czech Republic’s Temelin nuclear power plant is another Soviet era stop-start and much delayed farce. Like the third and fourth reactors at Slovakia’s Mochovce, the ones at Temelin are zombies that refuse to die.
Construction was started in 1987 but cancelled in 1990 after the fall of the communist government. Building was restarted in 1993 with a completion date of 1997. Five years and 71 CZK billion later, the reactors were still not finished. This was hardly a surpise considering the first reactors at Temelin were completed ten years late and five times over budget. Again the project was cancelled.
In 2008, however, the undead reactors rose from the grave once more. In the face of opposition, especially from Austria which is just 60 kilometres and wants the Temelin plant closed entirely, the Czech utility CEZ requested that the government conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for two new reactors. In 2009 CEZ launched a tender for contractors to build them. Three bidders are currently in the race – AREVA, Westinghouse and an Atomstroyexport-Skoda JS-Gidropress consortium.
In a lack of transparency typical of the nuclear industry and its supporters, a secret government committee is overseeing the project. A decision is due to be made in 2012. Contruction is due to start in 2013 with an estimated completion date of 2019 or 2020. Going on past experience of nuclear reactor construction, those dates are likely to be highly optimistic.