BUSINESS IN SHORT

Slovakia seeks way to prolong life of nuclear plant

SLOVAKIA is searching for a way to put off shutting down the nuclear power station in Jaslovské Bohunice, since its closure would make the country dependent on imported electricity. Branislav Zvara, spokesperson for the Economy Ministry, told the SITA newswire that the ministry is currently taking actions to allow Slovakia to avoid having to shut down the second V1 reactor at the end of this year.

SLOVAKIA is searching for a way to put off shutting down the nuclear power station in Jaslovské Bohunice, since its closure would make the country dependent on imported electricity. Branislav Zvara, spokesperson for the Economy Ministry, told the SITA newswire that the ministry is currently taking actions to allow Slovakia to avoid having to shut down the second V1 reactor at the end of this year.

"We are going to try to see if this avenue is open to us, because [otherwise] Slovakia would end up in an unenviable situation with regard to electric power generation," said Zvara.

Under pressure from some members of the EU, the former government of Mikuláš Dzurinda made a commitment to decommission the V1 unit as part of Slovakia's EU admission process. The first of two reactors comprising the V1 unit was shut down on December 31, 2006. The second reactor should be shut down at the end of 2008. The V2 unit remains in operation.

Slovakia's Economy Ministry is now exploring ways to allow it to prolong operation of the second reactor until at least 2010.

The Economy Ministry intends to ask the European Commission to reevaluate the current situation in energy markets.

"It must be taken into consideration that when Slovakia accepted the commitment to decommission the V1 nuclear power plant, the situation in the electricity market was completely different," said Zvara. "When Slovakia acceded to this agreement, it was possible to buy electric power from abroad, but it now appears that this will be a problem within the near future."

Prime Minister Robert Fico himself wants to try to extend the operation of the V1 unit's second reactor. In his opinion, the service life of V1 could be extended to 2020 or even 2025.

"I am convinced that Slovakia has been intentionally deprived of its energy independence," said Fico. "We invested Sk8 billion in the safety of these units and the former government - just like that - dumped it in the Danube, as if these eight billion crowns had not existed," Fico said at a Nuclear Forum in Prague on May 22.

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