• Germany's news in English

Thousands protest against nuclear energy

The Local · 18 Sep 2010, 18:26

Published: 18 Sep 2010 17:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Sep 2010 18:26 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Waving banners and balloons marked with the slogans of the anti-nuclear movement, they turned out in force to protest outside Chancellor Angela Merkel's offices.

The organisers - environmental groups backed by left-leaning opposition parties - put their numbers at 100,000, though police estimated a figure near 40,000. Special trains and 150 buses had been chartered to bring the demonstrators to Berlin from all over Germany.

Merkel's centre-right coalition on Sunday agreed to lift the deadline of 2022 for the phasing out of nuclear power set by an earlier Social Democrat-led government. The new plan would extend the lifetime of Germany's 17 nuclear reactors for an average of 12 years beyond the previously scheduled shutdown.

Calculations in the German media suggest that the last plant will not be switched off until 2040, and critics say that operators may get away with keeping some running for even longer than that.

"It's a disgrace. We feel cheated," Hartwig Bottcher said, a 66-year-old retired teacher.

"During this time the pile of nuclear waste increases and we still don't know what to do with it," said 19-year-old student Laura, preferring not to give her full name.

"The government has gone down on its knees to the nuclear giants," said 33-year-old Claudia Schultz, who made the trip from Rostock in the north to protest with her two young children.

The government says the plan is necessary to maintain electricity supply until other renewable energy resources become available.

Even if the extension becomes law, the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), co-authors with the Greens of 2000's decision to exit nuclear power, said they will reverse Merkel's changes if they return to office.

With no permanent storage site for radioactive waste in place and fears about a repetition of a disaster in Germany like the Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine in 1986, polls indicate a majority of voters oppose an extension.

Sociologist Klaus Hurrelmann said the wave of anti-nuclear sentiment could be "the match capable of sparking a new political movement," in the daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

The agreement with the energy companies is "scandalous" according to Jochen Stay, spokesman for the association Ausgestrahlt, or Irradiated, who hoped the protest on Saturday was only "the beginning of what will happen this autumn."

Story continues below…

A load of Germany's nuclear waste is due to return from a French reprocessing facility in November and large protests are expected.

The international organisation Attac said the agreement was "about allowing RWE, EON, EnBW and Vattenfall to increase their huge profits" from nuclear energy.

A thousand people also gathered in the western German city of Perl to demand the closure of the nuclear power plant across the border in the French town of Cattenom some 16 kilometres (10 miles) away, charging that it is unsafe.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

00:52 September 19, 2010 by JohnPaul44
I remember years ago, similar protests in the US left that country far behind in the development of cheap and efficient energy sources.

Hysteria, ignorance, and protestors go together. After the meltdown accident at Three Mile Island in the US, hysterical protestors demanded the evacuation of the entire area. More rational voices pointed out that the natural radiation from ordinary construction materials in the surrounding buildings was greater than that released by the meltdown, and if this level of radiation was really sufficient to make evacuation necessary, it would also be necessary to evacuate the entire state of Colorado, since natural radiation from the mountains there was greater than that released by Three Mile Island!
04:00 September 19, 2010 by Bishopbayern
see how many march once the lights go off!
08:58 September 19, 2010 by dudenaut
ok. germany will close this stations. and what next? where will we gain this energy in that case? buying from other countries? setting up new ones not renewable energy stations (for example extremely unhealthy coal-stations)? what will we do?

Don't think nuclear power is so unsafe. Well, actually it is. I mean safety standarts are very high on this kind of stations. I think Angela is right and we need to let them work until new renewable resourses will be available.

I think all off this people just don't think about real life and country problems. They are pretty hapy in their lifes, very light-hearted and don't know where to put their own energy.

May be i'm wrong. So if someone will answer my questions at the beginning and clear all situation to me, i'll be very grateful :)
11:58 September 19, 2010 by bearded1
My electricity comes out of the socket in my wall,as long as it is cheap I dont really care.I have a contract with a Company for green electricity,if it is I dont know,who really does.

I cant do anything more than trust the company to deliver what I order,maybe it comes from abroad and is from nuclear power,it doesnt have a tag on it so I cant check.

I will not be thinking anymore about this..........
13:02 September 19, 2010 by iseedaftpeople
This isn't just about the anti-nuclear power movement. I think the fault lines between protestors and the Merkel administration run much deeper than that.

At present, there is not a single field of politics where Merkel and her cronies haven't sold out to lobbyist interests. Health, domestic, social, youth, employment, transport (Stuttgart 21!!) politics... all completely dominated not by what the people want, but what lobbyists tell Merkel and her ministers to do. And it all goes on behind closed doors in a covert, clandestine manner that insults democracy as a whole.

It's a joy to see so many people take to the streets against the Merkel administration. I sincerely hope that this kind of vociferous protest will spread to other areas of politics, and make people voice their dissent against Schwarz-Gelb as a whole. Merkel and her cronies belong back on the opposition bench. For good if I had something to say about it, but certainly eight to 12 years would be an adequate "sentence" for their crimes against democracy.
13:59 September 19, 2010 by bearded1
maybe at the next election every GERMAN should use their vote and then, if the party you didnt vote for get in, and only then,OPEN YOUR MOUTHS AND PROTEST if you didnt vote then TOUGH LUCK you dont have the right to moan.

WHEN you have no vote in your own country while you live in another,and no vote in your adopted country.then you realise what a vote is worth.

08:17 September 20, 2010 by LMB222
Dear protesters, there's no such thing as "Atomkraft". Local got it right this time: it's nuclear. And I'm sure there are no real grounds beyond your paranoia.
21:14 September 20, 2010 by OMFG
@Bishopbayern - You won't see them march, because in fact the lights will go off... ;-D
Today's headlines
Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd