Nuclear plant protests block entire Austro-Czech border

VIENNA, Sep 16, 2000 -- (Reuters) Austrian environmentalists blocked all border crossings between Austria and the Czech Republic on Friday in protest against Prague's imminent activation of a nuclear power plant.

The blockade of the country's northern frontier was the third in as many weeks and the most comprehensive, with all 12 crossing points blocked in the provinces of Upper and Lower Austria, Austrian state television ORF said.

The Soviet-designed Temelin plant lies around 60 km (35 miles) from the Austrian border. The protesters, who barricaded the frontier with tractors and buses, demand an immediate halt to the plant's activity.

The Czech government has dismissed both Austrian and German concerns about the safety of the plant. Nuclear-free Austria has threatened to veto the Czechs' admission to the European Union if they put the controversial plant into operation this year.

The protests are set to fan out to Germany at the weekend, when anti-nuclear activists will stage a big demonstration at the Philippsreut border crossing in Bavaria on Sunday.

The USD 3 billion Temelin plant has been modified and fitted with western control systems supplied by Westinghouse, a unit of British Nuclear Fuel Ltd.

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