Environmental News Service 17/12 - 01


German Nuclear Phase Out Law Approved

BERLIN, Germany, December 17, 2001 (ENS) - Germany's controversial plan to abolish nuclear power passed its last major legislative hurdle on Friday with approval in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

The Bundesrat, the upper house in which Germany's states are represented, has still to scrutinize the law but has no power of veto.

Center-right opposition parties again pledged to reverse the law if they win next year's general election. The ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Greens led by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the so called Red/Green coalition, has worked towards the phase out since it took power in 1998.

One of the coalition government's signature environmental policies, the nuclear phase out has been driven by the Greens, with tortuous negotiations resulting in a deal with the nuclear industry in June.
The German government and leading energy companies on June 11 signed a formal agreement to phase out nuclear power. At the core of the agreement is a limit on the amount of power that can be produced by each of Germany's existing nuclear plants.

The draft law approved by the Bundestag Friday provides legislative backing for the June agreement, under which reactors can each operate for up to 32 years and generate a set amount of electricity.

Output quotas can be transferred from older to newer plant but not vice versa. Based on an average 32 year life for each reactor, Germany's newest nuclear power plant will have to close around 2021.

The draft law includes a ban on new nuclear power stations. From from July 1, 2005, spent nuclear fuel reprocessing would be prohibited and transport of nuclear materials to and from reprocessing plants also banned. Power stations are to be subject to more stringent safety checks.
Environment Minister Juergen Trittin, a Green, welcomed the vote as marking the end of "disastrous" old energy policies, but opposition party environment spokesperson Klaus Lippold warned that he was "rejoicing too soon."

Environmental groups complained that nuclear power station operating permits should have been immediately withdrawn after the September 11 terrorist plane strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They warn that the German government is ignoring the threat of terrorist attack.

Latest opinion polls predict another victory for Chancellor Schroeder and his nuclear phase out policies in the next national election scheduled for autumn 2002.

{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: [email protected]}

Hosted by www.Geocities.ws