Technicians installed the first fuel rod into the second reactor of the Mochovce nuclear power plant October 4, officially beginning the physical launch of the power station's second block.
After a wide-ranging series of tests, the reactor will soon begin to function at a minimum power level, about 2% of its total possible output, nuclear power utility spokesman Rastislav Petrech said.
The first block of the nuclear power station in Mochovce, whose construction started during the communist regime, was put into trial operation in the summer of 1998. The facility uses VVER-type Russian reactors with a western nuclear safety system, supplied by the German Siemens company and the French Framatome company.
The plant is the source of continuing controversy with anti-nuclear neighbour Austria and environmental activists. Some Austrian critics have called on Slovakia to at least delay the opening of the second reactor until 2000 due to Millennium computer bug fears. Mohovce is located 70 km from the Austrian border.