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Central Europe: Austria Reduces Pollution In East

By Sue Tapply

Vienna, 22 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The Austrian government is providing over $30 million to help cut sulpher pollution from coal-fired power stations in Slovakia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

An RFE correspondent in Vienna reports that the money totalling 337 million schillings has been set aside for an Austrian-led project in which new filters and boilers are being fitted to the power stations at Novaky in Slovakia, Sostanj in Slovenia and at Hodonin and Pocerady in the Czech Republic.

The technical measures will reduce sulpher emissions at these four plants by 229,000 tons per year.

Our correspondent quotes Martin Kasper, of the Austrian Society for Environment and Technology, as saying the four-station project is Austria's biggest cooperation to date with East European countries to reduce pollution. The grant, from the Ministry of the Environment, is being funnelled through the government-backed agency called Eastern EcoFund.

Contracts for the work, to the tune of nearly 2,000 million schillings, were let to Austria's biggest environmental firm AE & E.

The filter for Block IV of the Sostanj power station in Slovenia is already running, and the sulphur emissions are reported to have dropped by 34,000 tons. The reduction in emissions improves the quality of the air not only around Sostanj, but also in the two southern Austrian provinces of Carinthia and Styria.

Apart from its involvement in the power stations project, the EcoFund is also taking part in energy saving plans in Eastern Europe.

For example, its specialists are developing an energy concept for Bratislava for the Slovak Ministry for the Economy. This concept is mapping projected pollution level limits as far ahead as the year 2010, and should form the basis for all decisions made about energy laws and regulations in Bratislava over this period.

In the Czech Republic, EcoFund concentrates its interest on water and industrial purification plants. The largest of the two dozen they are working on are in Brno, Prostejov, Zlin and Prerov. These projects are financed in cooperation with the Czech environment fund. The plants should be in action by the year 2000.

Our correspondent writes that the Austrian state chancellery, the BKA, is another office that finances environmental studies and projects. It is currently backing the development of an early warning system to prevent water pollution in the Czech Republic.

The office is also building model geo-energy and solar energy plants and organizing projects to recycle building rubble and refrigerators in Slovakia.

In general, the BKA is interested in promoting ideas connected with ecological projects, although particular consideration is given to partnerships connected to energy production and initiatives for developing infrastructure.

Funds to cover Austrian costs involved in preparing such projects usually have an upper limit of around two million schillings ($180,000).