The first stage in the decommissioning of the controversial 17-year-old nuclear power plant at Jaslovské Bohunice should be completed as planned by the year 2007, the Ministry of Economy said on June 15.
"The deadline...of 2007 for the first stage of closing Jaslovské Bohunice is realistic," the ministry said in a statement. "Out of the seven main [decommissioning] tasks which had been set for 1997, five have been fully completed while the remaining two will be completed this year."
The statement added that two loads of spent nuclear fuel had been transported to Russia for disposal last year as part of the decommissioning process. Another shipment had been made this year and three more were planned.
Slovakia's nuclear power program has raised safety concerns in neighboring anti-nuclear Austria and Hungary, and came under heavy criticism from Austria after the first reactor at the Mochovce plant was activated. Austria has long insisted that the commissioning of the Mochovce plant should be complemented by the gradual phasing out of the Bohunice plant, which is older and closer to the Austrian border. Both plants were Soviet designed.
The ministry said that there had been serious safety concerns surrounding the Bohunice plant's original design, which had required numerous modifications during its 17 year life. "In Jaslovské Bohunice, the latest analysis of the equipment confirmed that the original design of the power station contained serious safety deficiencies," the ministry said.