German Government Warns Nuclear Industry

BERLIN, Oct. 6 (UPI) — The German nuclear industry is expecting a revival for their power source, but not so fast, warns the new German government.

The bosses of Germany’s big utilities were rubbing their hands with glee when it surfaced that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Conservatives would be re-elected in a team with the pro-business Free Democratic Party — both groups had campaigned in favor of nuclear power, and they were set to scrap the planned phase-out of the controversial energy source.

After the election, Juergen Grossmann, the head of utility RWE, urged the new government to swiftly extend the running times of the German reactors.

But officials from both parties have warned utilities that nuclear won’t be boosted at all costs.

“If the utilities refuse our terms and conditions then the nuclear phase out will remain in place,” Andreas Pinkwart, a senior FDP official, told German news magazine Der Spiegel.

Pinkwart said each reactor needed to be evaluated regarding its safety before a decision can be made.

“Some reactors may even qualify for an earlier shut down,” he warned.

Merkel’s team is equally reserved: It wants to draft an energy scenario for Germany before deciding on the phase-out, Der Spiegel reports. The Conservatives have said nuclear only has a future if the utilities agree to put the major part of the extra revenues from the longer running times into a fund aimed at boosting renewable energy sources and nuclear safety research.

Experts nevertheless expect the new government to take a pro-nuclear decision.

“The running times of Germany’s most modern nuclear power plants will likely be extended,” Claudia Kemfert, an energy expert with the Berlin-based DIW research institute, recently told UPI. A construction of new reactors is not likely to happen, she added.

Meanwhile, the state government in Lower Saxony is taking measures to boost security of the nuclear waste storage site Konrad. The state’s interior minister has decided to build a fence around the site to protect it against violent protests from anti-nuclear activists.

The Konrad site is currently in the development phase; it is due to go into operation in 2014 to store low- and medium-level nuclear waste.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Categorized | Energy, Energy & Fuels, Nuclear
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