LINZ, Sept. 24, 2000 (APA)—An estimated 2,000 anti-nuclear demonstrators blocked the Austrian-Czech border crossing at Wullowitz on Friday in protest against the forthcoming operation of the Czech nuclear power station at Temelin. There were also blockades of other smaller crossings between the two countries.

Police said there was no major disruption of traffic as detours had been set up and drivers warned in advance to avoid the areas.

At the biggest demonstration at Wullowitz near Freistadt in Upper Austria province, many children and young people joined in holding balloons and banners. Local politicians from the province’s governor downwards addressed the gathering. There were appeals, and in the case of the right-wing Freedom Party (FP), also threats.

Conservative People’s Party governor of Upper Austria province Josef Puehringer referred to last week’s reports of slight delays in the operation of Temelin, just 60 kilometers from the border. He suspected “that this power station has great failings, and that all the problems apparent up till now are far more than just teething troubles.”

He appealed to the Czech authorities to use the delays for a thorough inspection by international experts of Temelin’s suitibality to the environment. The EU should use “its entire political weight” to make it clear to the Czechs that “there are entry conditions for the EU which must be observed.”

FP leader in Upper Austria Hans Achatz said the Vienna government must tell Prague that there would be an Austrian veto to its EU membership if Temelin went into operation. But Social Democrat (SP) leader in the Upper Austria parliament Karl Frais said: “We are fighting against Temelin, not against Czech membership of the EU.”

In Prague meanwhile, spokesman of the Nuclear Safety Authority SUJB Pavel Pittermann said on radio there would be a repeat of some tests at the plant because of “certain faults.” The reactor block concerned was being switched back to a lower temperature, from 260 to 60 degrees centigrade, he said. But the spokesman added the delay was not serious.

A spokesman for Greenpeace, quoting sources in Prague, told the Austria Press Agency he believed that Temelin would go operational on October 2.

Austrian political opinion across the board is bitterly opposed to Temelin on safety grounds.

The Vienna parliament recently told the government that it should block Czech “energy chapter” EU entry negotiations until there were guarantees that the plant was up to EU safety and environment norms.

Protest demonstrations and blockades have been held at border crossings every Friday this month.

Copyright 2000 Austria Presse Agentur Ben.m.b.H (APA). All Rights Reserved.