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Germany to guarantee Brazilian nuclear plans

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Protesters at the Brazilian parliament building back in 2007. Photo: DPA
08:24 CEST+02:00
The German government is supporting the construction of a nuclear power station in Brazil – in a mountainous coastal region prone to landslides using plans dating back to 1975, it has emerged.

Despite the fact that Germany is set to stop generating electricity with nuclear power stations itself by 2022, the government has extended a €1.3- billion export credit guarantee, known as Hermes cover, according to a report in Wednesday's Financial Times Deutschland.

The paper reported that the previous guarantee had expired in July, but will be extended.

“The government respects the decision of the Brazilian government for an extension of nuclear power,” it quoted a government source saying.

The country is, “politically and economically an important partner,” the insider added.

The Angra 3 is planned for an Atlantic coast location where there is a risk of landslides. Experts also consider the plans, which date back to 1975, as too old, and have criticized the Brazilian authorities as too lax with the nuclear industry.

Brazilians and international groups such as Greenpeace have been protesting against the plans for years.

It will be built by the French firm Areva, which, the FTD points out, employs more than 5,000 people in Germany.

A bad-tempered parliamentary debate is expected on Wednesday as politicians discuss the matter in the parliamentary budgetary committee. The spectre of Japan's Fukushima disaster early this year – which prompted Germany's nuclear switch-off - is likely to be repeatedly invoked.

“It would be schizophrenic to turn off the nuclear power stations here but at the same time to support the construction of new ones abroad,” said Sven-Christian Kindler, budgetary expert for the Greens.

The FTD said that the government was attaching a number of conditions to the extension of its credit guarantee, leaving itself get-out clauses before the official closing of the contracts at the start of next year.

By then, Areva will have to commission an independent expert report, which will examine whether the Angra 3 plant would be well enough protected from earthquakes, landslides and floods, whether the electricity supply would be secure in emergencies, and whether there are good enough evacuation plans for the region.

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“The government is reserving the right to check the report. A final confirmation of the credit guarantee will only be forthcoming if the results are satisfactory,” the government source told the paper.

There will also be regular checks of whether the Brazilian nuclear authority adheres to certain standards, while the Brazilian government will also have to give a guarantee to reduce the German financial risk.

The Local/hc

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