Nuclear plant expansion protest backed by 204,000 Viennese

By William GreenMore than 200,000 Vienna residents have signed
a petition against the controversial expansion of a nuclear power plant
in Slovakia, a city councillor has claimed.Social Democratic
(SPÖ) environmental councillor Ulli Sima, who had started postcard and
online campaigns against its expansion, said today (Thurs) that 204,162
people had signed the petition.She said: “We are going to continue our struggle against Mochovce at all levels, but there remains much to be done.”She
said she would examine all possible legal steps against the plant’s
expansion and file a complaint with the European Commission (EC),
adding there was justified concern that Slovak authorities were acting
in violation of EU guidelines.She also called on the Austrian government to file a complaint with the EC over the expansion.Jens
Karg, a spokesman for non-governmental organisation (NGO) GLOBAL-2000,
said: “The many people opposed to Mochovce’s expansion constitute a
clear order to Austrian politicians to bring the most-dangerous nuclear
power project in Europe to an end.”Greenpeace official Steffen
Nichtenberger called for the withdrawal of Austrian firms, especially
construction company Strabag SE, from the Mochovce expansion project.In
August, Greenpeace activists managed to get past security checks to put
up posters on the façade of Strabag’s Vienna headquarters in a protest
against the firm’s engagement at the Slovak plant.Greenpeace
campaign leader Jurrien Westerhof said: “Strabag needs to withdraw its
engagement and must not derive any benefit from nuclear power
technology.Westerhof said Strabag could decide “between a few million Euros in profit and the opinion of 95 per cent of Austrians.”A week earlier, protesters had put up posters at a Strabag office building in Linz, Upper Austria.Andrea
Zlatnanska of Greenpeace in Slovakia said: “There are many fewer people
in Slovakia who oppose nuclear power after being brainwashed by the
Communist regime for decades about it. They were told nuclear power was
‘good, clean and cheap’.”Austrian environmental groups and
Green politicians have been demonstrating for months against expansion
plans at Mochovce, which is 200 kilometres east of Vienna.Austrians
have been worried about the threat from nuclear power stations since
the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986, when hundreds of children in
several Austrian regions fell ill because of winds carrying nuclear
radiation into the country.The country almost had its own
nuclear power plant, but the site in Zwentendorf, Lower Austria, never
went into service after 50.47 per cent of Austrians participating in a
referendum in 1978 opposed the plans of the Social Democratic (SPÖ)
government. Controversially, the referendum was held after the plant
was built.Today, the plant is used as a storage location for
several companies but also hosts events like last summer’s “Save the
World” gala.