The Slovak government has decided not to honour a 1994 pledge to close the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear power station by 2000, promising instead to observe the highest safety standards.
Robert Zitnansky, adviser to deputy prime minister for the economy Ivan Miklos, said V1 (the oldest of the two reactors), would be phased out, but there were now no specific plans for the closure of V2. Zitnansky says the government will continue to upgrade V1 in order to extend its life as long as safety considerations allow.
Environmental group Greenpeace described the decision as a “provocative challenge” to the European Union and called on the EU to refuse to begin negotiations with Slovakia on eventual membership. The EU has been insisting that some of the Eastern European countries which have applied to join will have to first shut down some of their oldest and least safe nuclear stations.
Slovakia’s neighbour Austria is the leading EU nation pressing for closure. Bohunice is 60 kilometres from the Slovak-Austrian frontier. However, Austrian protests did not prevent Slovakia from bringing its other nuclear power station at Mochovce on line last June.