Harmless levels of radiation from Japan have reached the Czech Republic. The Office for Nuclear Safety reported on Friday it had registered miniscule traces of radioactive iodine which were not considered dangerous to human health. In the last few hours similar findings have been reported from Sweden, Finland, Poland and Bulgaria. On the other hand, the possibility of contaminated imported food remains a threat and inspectors are taking regular samples.
Attending an EU summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Petr Nečas called for a rational approach to nuclear power in the EU in the wake of the Japanese nuclear safety scare. The Czech prime minister said he was convinced that Europe could not do without nuclear energy even in 30 or 50 years time, and the only reasonable solution was to make nuclear safety a top priority. He was speaking shortly after EU leaders called for worldwide stress testing of nuclear plants on Friday and committed to putting their 143 reactors through the toughest security checks possible. Mr. Nečas said he was convinced that the Czech Republic’s two nuclear plants would pass the tests.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Friday he was not worried that the refusal of some EU states to join the block’s competitiveness pact agreed on in Brussels this week would create a two-track Europe. Mr. Nečas said that the EU was already a two-track alliance with or without a Pact for the Euro. One of the reasons why the Czech government refused to jump on the bandwagon is the possibility of the pact leading to tax-harmonization within the block. However the Czech government has not ruled out that the Czech Republic could join the pact at some point in the future.
The pact, drawn up under pressure from Germany and France, should enhance the eurozone’s competitiveness and ensure the sustainability of public finances in the member states.
An explosion at a fuel storage facility in the town of Česká Lípa at midday on Friday killed two people and seriously injured two others. The injured men were airlifted to hospital, one with 20-30 percent burns and possibly a broken spine and pelvis, the other in a very critical condition with 70 percent burns. The two dead were reportedly crushed by a tank which fell on them after the explosion. The blast wave could be felt 400 metres from the explosion site. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
The lower house has passed a bill which would enable towns to ban high-emissions cars from city centres. The legislation would enable town halls to effectively ban older cars from entering certain streets and impose further restrictions in the event of a smog alert. The bill was drafted by deputies from the Ostrava region where air-pollution is a serious problem and the local authorities have little means of restricting traffic. The bill has yet to go through the Senate and be signed by the president.
The Czech Finance Ministry has curtailed until further notice the payment of subsidies from the EU’s structural funds to the Usti and Karlovy Vary regions, north and west of Prague. The decision was made in connection with an ongoing police investigation into suspected abuse of funds. Six people have been charged with abuse of position and financial machinations, five of them are in custody.
Czech scientists have sent an open letter to the prime minister, Petr Nečas, expressing deep concern over the present management of the Šumava National Park. The head of the park has said he will take active measures against bark-beetle infestation and has asked for the Environment Ministry to declare a calamity situation in the affected regions, opening the way to extensive logging. The park’s new director Jan Strásky has moreover angered the scientific community by refusing to heed the advice of scientists on the National Park’s Council. In the open letter scientists warn that if left to its own devices the park’s new management may do irreversible harm to the valuable eco-systems and biotopes in the Šumava nature reserve.
Apple's eagerly-awaited iPad 2 was hopelessly sold out in stores across the Czech Republic within an hour of going on sale at 4pm on Friday. In some places up to 200 people queued up for it outside Apple stores since the early morning hours and more than half of them left empty-handed. Its price on the Czech market is from 12 000 to 20 000 crowns. The next batch of the sought-after-item is expected to arrive at the end of the month.
Czech fugitive Radovan Krejčír, who was on the run in South Africa, handed himself over to police in Johannesburg in the early hours of Friday morning, the local media reported. Krejčír who is wanted for fraud and conspiracy to murder in the Czech Republic, is now also in trouble with the South African authorities. He is to be charged with fraud and questioned in connection with the death of underworld boss Cyril Beeka, who was gunned down in Cape Town earlier this week. A hit list was reportedly found during a raid at Krejčír’s house in Bedforview earlier this week. Police suspect Krejčír is part of an international mafia ring.
The Czech Republic, along with the rest of the European Union, will switch to summertime or daylight-saving time on Sunday, March 27 when clocks will go forward by one hour at 2:00 Central European Time. Czech Railways have warned passengers that the scheduled arrival and departure of 15 long-distance trains will be “delayed” by an hour by the time shift. Summer time ends on Sunday, October 30 when the clocks go back.
The coming days are expected to be partly cloudy with intervals of rain and shine and day temperatures from 7 to 10 degrees Celsius.