Temelin management stay of sentence

31 March 1999

The Czech Republic’s Trade and Industry Ministry will not insist on changes in the management of the unfinished Temelin nuclear power plant, if the timetable for its construction is maintained, Minister Miroslav Gregr said. Insisting on changes if construction goes to plan would be a mistake and would only cause further delays.

This view was echoed by the former general director of the CEZ power company, Jan Vacik, and by the General Director of the Skoda Praha engineering company, the general supplier for Temelin, Stanislav Svoboda.

“The plant management is working efficiently and its removal would do more harm than good,” said Svoboda. Gregr said that the government will be checking the progress of construction in three months. CEZ Board Deputy Chairman Frantisek Hezoucky said that this year CEZ will invest $294 million into construction of Temelin’s two reactors. Hezoucky believes that the plant should begin operations earlier than the planned date of August 2001.

Svoboda is seeking to foster closer relations between Skoda Praha and CEZ as a way to solve the problems surrounding the construction of Temelin.

“I have information that some aspects of construction are already being carried out faster than before,” he says. He added that Skoda Praha is not interested in extending the construction period as a clause in the contract with CEZ makes Skoda Praha responsible for all delays in construction of up to six months. Longer delays would trigger a government enquiry.

CEZ is planning to acquire a stake in Skoda Praha, according to the new CEZ board chairman Milan Cerny. Svoboda has already been elected to the CEZ board and Minister Gregr says the government has “strategic intentions” for both CEZ and Skoda Praha. However, Svoboda’s appointment was not universally welcomed. Members of the ecological movement Duha (Rainbow) who own CEZ shares from coupon privatisation are considering legal action. Any shareholder has the right to file a suit against the appointment within three months. Lawyer Tomas Sokol says Svoboda’s presence in CEZ management is a clear conflict of interests and violates the legal business code.

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