VIENNA, Oct. 5, 2000 (APA)—Austrian-Czech tensions over Temelin nuclear power station heightened Thursday night when an Austrian inspection team was barred from sensitive areas of the reactors.

The team of Austrian MP’s and technical experts expressed dismay that Block One of Temelin, in southern Bohemia 60 kilometers from the Austrian border, was already in “Regime 3.”

The 1000 megawatt Reactor Block One of Russian VVER-1000 design had been heated up to 280 degrees Centigrade.

In Prague, the nuclear safety authority SUJB said it would probably go operational “in days rather than weeks.”

After their four-hour visit to Temelin, the Austrians said they had been barred from Block Two as well, even though it was not being activated like Block One.

The delgation head, Greens MP Eva Glawischig, said it was “far too early to go on the electricity grid with Temelin.”

It was absolutely essential that an international commission first check on the plant’s safety and environment standards.

She said that those areas she and her colleagues had been able to inspect had given them cause for greater rather than less concern.

This was particularly so the “the critical zone under the pressurized reactor case.”

Meanwhile the Czech Republic invited the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect Temelin in February next year.

Announcing the invitation, IAEA spokesman David Kyd said it would be the first visit since 1996.

Past IAEA statements indicate the agency does not share Austria’s concern about the safety of Temelin and other nuclear plants of Soviet design in Central and East Europe.

Austrian politicians have often said they want to make Czech EU membership dependent on the country’s attitude about Temelin.

Austria itself has never used nuclear power following a “no” in a referendum in 1978.

In Prague this week, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Frantisek Brozik said demands by Austria to delay operating Temelin by six months were out of the question.

The Austrians’ visit to the plant was to convince them that it was safe, and the “most modern in Europe.”

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