Environment Impact Assessment of Temelin II
The operation of a nuclear power plant, like any other human activity, affects the environment. In an objective comparison of nuclear power plants with other energy sources or industrial plants in terms of the environmental impact, nuclear power plants are very environmentally friendly, for example see the recent IAEA publication on the role of nuclear energy in the low-emission future.
The impacts of the nuclear power plants in operation are continuously monitored and assessed, and no evidence of significant adverse have been found that would imply impacts on individual components of the environment. The health status of the population around both of our nuclear power plants is also evaluated. According to the results of these studies so far, there is no direct impact of the operation of a nuclear power plant on the health of the population living in its vicinity, and the frequency of disease incidence is not different from other areas.
The whole EIA process is characterized by the preparation of thousands of pages of expert studies, analyses, reports and other materials, the preparation of which involved tens of experts and specialists from the Czech Republic. Another significant characteristic of the process is the high overall time required. The whole process was monitored by the Czech and foreign public. The public involved had several possibilities to raise comments and questions on individual documents during the process.
Within the interstate process of the environmental impact assessment taking place from 2008 to 2013, potential impacts of the completion of the Temelin Nuclear Power Plant on the environment and public health were assessed, also in consideration of the effects of the parallel operation of the existing nuclear power plant and the existing background.
The company CEZ a. s. (at that time the company Elektrarna Temelin II, a. s. hasn’t existed yet) submitted the notice of project implementation for the EIA project for the completion of the Temelin Nuclear Power Plant to the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic in July 2008. The Ministry of the Environment published the notice of project implementation in August 2008, thereby initiating the so-called screening and scoping procedure. In the EIA process for the new units, the Ministry of the Environment also included the relevant territories of neighbouring Austria and Germany. The preliminary stage was finished in February 2009 and in conclusion the Ministry of the Environment informed CEZ a. s. of requirements for the content of the EIA documentation. These consisted of 34 main and 165 partial requirements that the Ministry received from concerned state administration bodies, local self-governments, civic associations and public, also from abroad. The conclusions of the screening and scoping procedure and the way they are addressed are contained in the EIA documentation, which provides basic data regarding the intent and assesses the expected direct and indirect impacts of the completion project on the environment and public health.
CEZ, a. s. handed over the EIA documentation to the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic in May 2010. In June 2010, the documentation was made available by the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic to the Czech as well as foreign public. Slovakia (September 2010) and Poland (December 2010) joined the interstate EIA process subsequently. In compliance with the Espoo Convention, in addition to the distribution of the EIA documentation, the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic offered to arrange interstate consultations regarding the EIA documentation to all the relevant neighbouring countries (Austria, Germany, Slovakia, and Poland). Three interstate consultations concerning the EIA documentation were held: two with Austria (January and May 2011) and one with Germany – the Bavarian Land (June 2011).
Based on the EIA documentation and all applied observations from the Czech Republic and abroad, the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic ordered a preparation of the independent expert opinion for the EIA documentation with an authorised body. Once the opinion was published (February 2012), the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic held a public hearing (June 2012) pursuant to the Czech Act on Environmental Impact Assessment. Also, public discussions preceded the public hearing, which were held on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany (in Passau on 12 June 2012) and on the territory of Austria (in Vienna on 30 May 2012).
Based on the EIA documentation, expert opinion, public hearing, and all observations received during the EIA process, the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic issued a favourable binding statement on the environmental impact assessment of project implementation (hereinafter referred to as the “Statement”)in January 2013.
The Statement contains 90 conditions and requirements concerning the environment and public health protection, which are divided in accordance of which stage of the project they relate to: preparation, construction, and operation, and which shall be respected in the respective construction project stage documentation and shall form conditions in subsequent administrative procedures.
The Statement of the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic is not a decision on the planned intent, but it is one of the necessary technical documents for the concerned administrative authorities, whose competence is to issue subsequent permitting decisions.
Following the amendment to the EIA Act No. 39/2015 Coll., which came into effect on 1 April 2015 and which also applies to the EIA reports already issued, the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic issued a binding Statement on 24 February 2016 to verify compliance under the amendment to the EIA Act. The binding Statement on compliance verification states that the original EIA report of 18 January 2013 complies with the requirements of the EIA Act and therefore with the requirements of legislation that incorporates Directive 2011/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council (EIA Directive). This binding Statement was issued for the decisions in the follow-up procedure issued after the amendment to the EIA Act came into force and will also apply to decisions in other follow-up procedures.
The validity of the Statement was extended to 7 years from the date of its issuance by the latest amendment to EIA Act No. 326/2017 Coll., which entered into force on 1 November 2017. At the request of the notifier, the concerned authority shall extend the validity of the opinion for a period of 5 years, even repeatedly, unless there have been changes in the conditions in the territory concerned or findings and assessment methods as a result of which the intent could have significant environmental impacts not yet assessed.
The EIA documentation itself contains about 500 pages of text and 2000 pages of annexes. Approximately 200 experts from several reputable institutions were involved in its preparation that lasted 15 months, such as:
- ÚJV Řež, a. s.;
- Výzkumný ústav vodohospodářský T. G. Masaryka, v. v. i.;
- Ústav fyziky atmosféry AV ČR, v. v. i.
- Český hydrometeorologický ústa.
In the EIA documentation, the experts assess the impacts on individual components of the environment and public health. The subject of the assessment are impacts on the population, air and climate, water, noise situation, and other physical and biological characteristics, soil, rock environment and natural resources, landscape, flora, fauna and ecosystems, tangible assets and cultural monuments, transport and other infrastructure, and other monitored parameters. The impacts of new units are assessed separately and together with the operation of the existing two units. It also assesses the impacts that occur during construction and at the end of operation of the units.
During the preparation of the EIA documentation, no facts have been found that would prevent further preparation of new units in terms of environmental impact. Possible impacts on public health and the environment, even considering the synergistic effect of the operation of the existing power plant, do not exceed the applicable legal limits or (if no limits are set) acceptable levels.