The Czech government in December approved the selection of four recommended sites for the location of a deep radioactive waste repository - Brezový potok in the Klatovy region, Horka between Trebíc and Velký Mezirící, Hrádek near Jihlava and Janoch near Temelín.
Research and exploration work will be carried out on these sites to select the final and back-up site, which should be confirmed by 2030, according to Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (Správy úložišt radioaktivních odpadu - SURAO). Used nuclear fuel is currently stored on site at the Temelín and Dukovany NPPs, owned and operated by power utility CEZ Group.
The Government also approved the draft of the substantive intent of the Act on Proceedings Related to the Deep Repository for Radioactive Waste, the draft of which the Ministry of Industry and Trade will submit to the government this year. This law, which has long been demanded by local representatives and some legislators, will set out the "rules of the game" for the preparation of a deep repository and will strengthen the transparency and efficiency for assessing interests throughout the process.
The government confirmed the results of many years of research work, including the Advisory Panel of Experts of the SÚRAO Director, in which the affected municipalities were also represented during the evaluation process. These four sites proved to be relatively better in terms of safety, environmental impact and technical feasibility. The next step will be follow-up research and exploration work, and by 2030 the government should, based on the next round of evaluation, select the final site where the repository is expected to become operational by 2065.
To date, nine sites have been considered in connection with the repository and the reduction of the number to four was by SÚRAO approved in June.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlícek, said “Both the State Office for Nuclear Safety and the independent opposition evaluated the complex process of narrowing the number of localities positively. We ended a period of long-term uncertainty for five localities.
"I am aware of the sensitivity of the whole process and a lot of questions from the public, so we are in direct contact with the four localities and we want to be as transparent as possible and strengthen mutual trust. I believe that we will be able to meet our common commitments and responsibilities for ensuring the end of the fuel cycle and find the final location for the repository that best meets the strict criteria, but above all safety.”
Jan Prachar, director of SURAO, said the government decision "takes the solution of the end of the fuel cycle in the Czech Republic to the next level”. He added: “We are entering a phase that our colleagues in Switzerland, Sweden or Canada have already reached. SÚRAO wants to continue transparent and open communication towards selected locations even after the short-listing. Municipalities will be offered the establishment of special working groups, through which they can participate in the debate on the final form and location of the surface area of ??the deep repository.”
However, there have been protests. One of the first actions against the repository was organised by the Stop Janoch initiative at the Malešice Fair in July where a petition has already collected more than 3500 signatures. Mayors from the Horka and Hrádek localities in the Vysocina region, which remain on the shortlist told CTK that they would continue to fight against the project. The mayor of Budišov in the Trebíc region, Petr Pinos, stated that the municipalities would also defend themselves against protests through legal means. "Our position will always be the same. We do not agree with the repository and we will try to prevent it at all costs," Pinos said. The mayor of Dolní Cerekva in the Jihlava region, Zdenek Dvorák, plans to ask for support from the new regional representation.