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Merkel suspends nuclear power extension

The Local · 14 Mar 2011, 17:05

Published: 14 Mar 2011 12:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Mar 2011 17:05 GMT+01:00

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"Everything will be reviewed," Merkel told reporters at a press conference in Berlin to announce the moratorium.

"If a highly developed country like Japan, with high safety standards and norms, cannot prevent the consequences for nuclear power of an earthquake and a tsunami, then this has consequences for the whole world," Merkel said.

She added the review could lead to some of the country's older reactors being soon taken permanently off the grid.

"This changes the situation, including in Germany. We have a new situation, and this situation must be thoroughly analysed."

Members of her centre-right coalition had earlier in the day suggested the possibility of reversing a controversial decision made only last October.

Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, a member of Merkel’s junior coalition party the Free Democrats, said Germany “needs a new risk analysis” of the situation.

Environment Minister Norbert Röttgen, a member of Merkel’s own conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), encouraged a renewed political discussion without taboos to reach a “national consensus” on the matter.

"We must speak comprehensively about safety, because we’ve had a completely new experience," Röttgen said. "It also has consequences for the German situation."

“The longer the nuclear power plants run, the longer the risk remains with us,” he added.

Polls show the majority of Germans consistently oppose nuclear power, and less than two weeks before a critical state election in Baden-Württemberg, the issue is set to figure highly as the nuclear disaster continues to unfold in Japan.

Both environmentalists and the opposition have pressed Merkel to reconsider her decision last autumn to push through a bill extending the lifetime of 17 German reactors by up to 14 years.

Her government had said Europe's biggest economy needed time to develop renewable energy sources and could not meet its energy needs in the coming years without nuclear power. But Germany's left-wing opposition disagrees with that assessment.

"We have to realise that the era of not only cheap oil but also of nuclear power is over," Sigmar Gabriel, head of the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday.

He said that although Germany was not in a seismic zone like Japan, which is battling to control two overheating reactors after Friday's quake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems, Germany's reactors were still at risk.

"In the current debate people are making the mistake of seeing the earthquake as the problem. The problem is the cut in power," Gabriel said told public broadcaster ARD.

In 2000 Gabriel’s party, which led the nation under a coalition with the environmentalist Greens, decided to switch off the last of Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2020, but Merkel's subsequent government postponed the exit until the mid-2030s despite strong public disapproval.

Green party co-leader Claudia Roth told broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk that no reactor, including those in Germany, are completely protected from a meltdown.

Story continues below…

“And that has nothing to do with earthquakes,” she said.

On Saturday tens of thousands of protestors - 60,000 according to organisers - formed a 45-kilometre human chain between the Neckarwestheim power plant and the city of Stuttgart.

Both are in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, where Merkel's CDU is in danger of losing power after 58 years in charge on March 27 in the most important of seven state elections this year.

AFP/DPA/DAPD/The Local/ka/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:15 March 14, 2011 by Krim
I can not hear anymore these amorphous politicians. They have been telling us all our reactors are secur.

Now after these terrible problems in Japan. They start changing their minds.
13:42 March 14, 2011 by catjones
Silly Germans, you're surrounded by other country's nuclear reactors. Do you think radioactivity recognizes Germany's borders?
13:57 March 14, 2011 by Clapoti
@catjones, you're right... I don't know what they are thinking exactly.

I'm tired of hearing about that nuclear thing. The population here seems to be totally brainwashed about it, but they cannot offer a proper alternative for replacing the very polluting coal power plants and the nuclear ones except putting ugly wind turbines everywhere... do they know how many of those ugly things they will need to do that?
14:29 March 14, 2011 by derExDeutsche
Countries certainly need to take a very serious look at their existing infrastructure.
15:09 March 14, 2011 by tallady
True ,we must be vigilant concerning nuclear generation,,We should also keep in mind that this tragedy and disaster was the result of an unprecedented 8.9 earthquake and a tsunami ,from a country that is in the Pacific rim.
15:55 March 14, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
@tallady - excellent point. What many are missing is that the reactors performed exactly as they should have. It would have been fine except for the massive tsunami. If there had been no tsunami, they reactors would have not lost cooling and they would have shut down according to the system design.
16:20 March 14, 2011 by frankiep
never let the facts get in the way of politically motivated media hysteria
16:30 March 14, 2011 by auniquecorn
Merkel suspends nuclear power extension for 20 years?
16:46 March 14, 2011 by JAMessersmith
Germany isn't prone to earthquakes, like Japan, and nuclear power is far cleaner than coal or oil. Oil spills are way more common than nuclear meltdowns. And as of now, we have no way of fueling a grid via wind or solar power. The technology simply isn't there. So take your pick. You can produce "clean" energy, or "dirty" energy, but both come with potential consequences.
17:48 March 14, 2011 by yhsanjay
Why has Germany waited for D Day?These are normal and routine and one should be very careful with nuclear everything lest these destroy us.
18:53 March 14, 2011 by freechoice
Who says there is no earthquakes in Germany?

Even if it is not strong, all you need is a German equivalent of a Homer Simpson getting drunk and doing a series of mistakes, to ensure a core meltdown.

It is so simple.
19:16 March 14, 2011 by Kayak
How can one "suspend and extension"?

Surely when one "suspends" an extendion one is extending, or?

Perhaps, that's the beauty of it - everything stays the same.

The headline hurts my brain after a long day...
20:15 March 14, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
@freechoice - before you start spouting about a "Homer Simpson" why don't you take a little time to actually learn something about what you are talking about. Obviously, you know absolutely nothing about the safety systems in a nuclear power plant. And why not spend a little time understanding the health and environmental damage from gas and coal fired plants.
21:10 March 14, 2011 by Freeman
How about using bikes as mandatory "Ozone" friendly.

Batteries for most uses.

Really limit wasted neon lights selling 24/7
21:24 March 14, 2011 by Bishnu
isn't it a very stupid demand telling of replacing those neuclear power with no suitable and affordable alternatives?? and how fool it looks , the Germany is surrounded by dozens of neuclear power plants( at least 80 in France and it produces nearly 75% of total energy where as germany only produces 23% of total consumed energy) , can they also say French government to remove them? and anyway which cleaner and cheaper alternative do you have in place of those 17 power plants??? the childish demand of South western Germans !!!
22:48 March 14, 2011 by mickrussom
Merkel is usually fairly smart, this is stupid. The whole anti-nuclear thing is stupid. The eco-terrorists and progressives are manufacturing fear while not offering any viable way of producing this much power.

Well, the eco-terrorists have made maintaining and rebuilding and making new nuclear infrastructure impossible but the eco-terrorists burn gas and energy like mad. So we have 40 year old reactors that cant survive a 9 magnitude (they did admirably so far containing a total failure) - but we have the technology with pebble bed and generation iV+ reactors to get rid of more of the risks.

Take your pick. Coal, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Oil. Nuclear is the least damaging due to the fact waste stays in one place (rather than being put into the atmosphere) and with new designs even more risk is averted. But the eco-terrorists want to use this to make "green" seem more appealing. Its a sad time where disasters are used by these sick people to push their eco-terrorist agenda.

Its ridiculous since no one was worried about radiation on the west coast after Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts and they shot radiation well over 30,000 feet and there was no evidence of that radiation coming here. And if you read about Bikini and Enewetak Atoll (or Eniwetok Atoll) blasts - we even did a 15 megaton blast in open air called the castle bravo shot. The mushroom cloud reached a height of 47,000 feet (14 km) and a diameter of 7 miles (11 km) in about a minute; it then reached a height of 130,000 feet (40 km) and 62 miles (100 km) in diameter in less than 10 minutes and was expanding at more than 100 m/s.

Some local radiation resulted. The point is, nuclear weapons aren't as bad as the media is making nuclear power to be yet the media and the rat eco-terrorists have no real solutions other than grab a pitchfork and live like the Amish.
00:02 March 15, 2011 by reprap
Watch the German news. Whenever there is a nuclear expert on, the person is from Greenpeace. Greenpeace has no nuclear experts. There whole agenda is to rid the Earth of Nuclear power.
01:10 March 15, 2011 by ron1amr
The whole chemistry of the Earth is changing as a result of humans. Gabriel has a good point being the cut in power. Nuclear stations need to be near water. They require an abundance of water to keep the reactors from over heating. This has been the issue in Japan when all the water was washed away and there was nothing to cool the reactors. The Japanese are also good at covering up things. Just like the Russians were in Chernobyl. Radiation is harmful to all life. if all structures had their own form of energy then people wouldn't be so reliant on energy grids. Of coarse if there were a tsunami, then all would need to be rebuilt but there wont be the fear of tending the needs of cooling reactors and putting out fires from oil refineries.
12:34 March 15, 2011 by Pilot.Dave
Governments the world over are so selfish. If they were honest with their people, we would not be in this pickle... If they were really concerned with Global Warming, all the Trillions of Euros spent on Nukes, oil, coal, hydrogen fuel cells, wind farms, etc would be spent on true renewable - Solar and on a micro scale for most. But, to serve their own interests (Collection of taxes) they keep on this path of energy that requires the central and therefore regulated by big industry source. Look, Nukes introduce massive amounts of HEAT into the environment that was NEVER there to begin with. Look, at least the heat from oil was in the environment at one point in time. Not true for Nukes.

Look, hydrocarbons will be the only concentrated storage of energy for our lifetimes (Star Trek moment not withstanding) so at least bio diesel will remain for all large systems (Airlines, trains, ships, etc) So, wake up the professional politicians and lets be wise with our Earth.
13:44 March 15, 2011 by XFYRCHIEF
@ron1amr - If radiation is so harmful to life, then we should all be dead as we are constantly being irradiated. Between cosmic radiation, natural radiation from the earth (especially granite) and radioactive elements in our food, we all receive a constant dose. Did you know beer and potatoes contain radioactive materials? Bananas contain radioactive potassium. Every time you fly in an airplane you receive a higher dose of radiation. And, interestingly, studies have found that persons working in the nuclear industry and who are exposed to very low levels of radiation have a lower rate of cancer than average. Again, please learn about the topic before making such statements.
21:54 March 15, 2011 by Freeman
How about shutting Fuks him a plan t. Pepco still gave clean bill of health. Perhaps more than 3 mo. Angie.
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