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Cabinet gives nod to nuclear extension

The Local · 28 Sep 2010, 13:51

Published: 28 Sep 2010 13:51 GMT+02:00

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The cabinet agreed today to an extension of an average 12 years to Germany’s reactors over fierce resistance from opposition parties and environmentalists.

The battleground now moves to the courtroom with opponents set to lodge complaints to the Constitutional Court because the government has side-stepped the upper house of parliament, or Bundesrat, where it does not have a majority.

Greenpeace activists, meanwhile, are holding demonstrations against the decision at nuclear facilities around the country.

Under the plan, the seven reactors that began operating before 1980 will be extended by eight years, and the 10 newer reactors will continue for 14 years.

That means the last reactor will not be decommissioned until at least 2036.

Nuclear power could remain part of Germany’s energy mix for even longer: if a reactor needs to be closed down prematurely, its running time can be transferred to another, younger reactor.

The government has sold the extension as a bridge while renewable energy technology is further developed, with the goal to make renewables the dominant power source by 2050.

But details of the goals on renewable energy remain vague and a plan for mandatory green-friendly renovations to buildings has been ditched. Chancellor Angela Merkel has hailed the plan as a sound, long-term energy policy.

Under a previous coalition government, the centre-left Social Democrats and environmentalist Greens agreed to phase out nuclear reactors by 2022 – a decision that Merkel has now reversed.

The centre-right coalition of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) say the extension is needed to keep electricity prices stable and allow time for a gradual changeover to renewable energy.

There is now some dispute about whether the Bundesrat must approve the nuclear extension. Merkel’s coalition lost its majority in the upper house earlier this year, meaning she could not get such a controversial law through.

The opposition parties have announced they will take the matter to the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe.

Greens parliamentary leader Jürgen Trittin told broadcaster SWR that it was “a bad day” for Germany when the nuclear industry could thwart the renewable energy industry.

Story continues below…

At all 12 nuclear power plant sites around Germany, Greenpeace activists have been protesting since early Tuesday morning with the slogan, “Nuclear power is hurting Germany.”

“The danger of radioactive contamination because of a serious reactor accident has not been averted,” said spokesman Tobias Münchmeyer. “There is ever more radioactive waste produced, for which there is no storage place.”

Meanwhile experts have voiced repeated concerns over the safety of the country's ageing nuclear power plants.

DAPD/The Local/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:45 September 28, 2010 by auniquecorn
The cabinet agreed today to an extension of an average 12 years to Germany¦#39;s reactors.

Did´nt anyone read that last article?

The government has sold the extension as a bridge while renewable energy technology is further developed,

A Bridge built by Indian laborers?

Come on,,,, I´m dying here.
15:14 September 28, 2010 by freechoice
give me renewable energies anytime....drop the radioactive nuclear energy and fossil fuels....they are health hazards to everybody living near those plants....
01:26 September 29, 2010 by cklb
agreed with freechoice. and the people near final storages don't live a safe life either. see http://www.asse2.de/ nice german storage facility that distributes radioactive isotopes into the ground water...
09:45 September 29, 2010 by jennyT
Renewable energy are not mature enough yet to provide all the electricity people need nor is it reliable enough to provide constant energy. True that nuclear waste does exist but the upstream process of manufacturing solar panel also involves various toxic chemicals (eg. silicon cells). It is just as deadly if not more so.

If one is to compare the whole process from raw materials to products and final disposal, will we really find "renewable energy" really renewable? Disposal of solar panels is just as much of a headache as nuclear waste. Wind energy is not always reliable since the wind is not always available and the turbines do not always operate at full output. It has other environmental impact though not in terms of byproduct toxicity and the same can be said about hydro and coal.

It is naive to believe there is an energy solution that is complete free from causing environmental impact and be 100% reliable. Hence most countries have a mix of energy sources depending on the availability of resources.

Unless all of us willing to give up the comfort of having electricity power, there will always be a debate as to what is the best.

Final point, people don't seems to realize there are numerous regulatory authorities and standards/codes that governs the nuclear power industry. This industry is under constant scrutiny and rightly so because it is no joke to have an accident. But shouldn't the same scrutiny be applied to other energy form? (eg. coal power plants have possibility of explosion accident) People tends to focus more on nuclear energy than, say, coal or solar.

It is easy to object for the sake of objecting because everyone else is doing it, but unless one really tries to understand all aspects, it is really difficult to judge.
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