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German Nuclear Decision

  • May 31st, 2011
  • Posted by EUEditor

german-anti-nuke-dwe.jpgGermany’s decision to get out of nuclear power, decided on the weekend (29-30.5.11), will see seven suspended plants stay shut, and nine more closing down by 2022.


Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative coalition has swung back and forth on the issue, in the face of emphatic majority public opinion against nuclear energy.

Last October the government announced a slow-down of the earlier program for a total phase-out, inherited from its predecessor, the “Red-Green” coalition.

Then, after the Fukushima nuclear emergency in Japan, in March, it announced the suspension of operations at older plants while extensive safety inventories were made.

Now it has opted for total closure, anticipating a report from a nuclear ethics commission, which cast doubt on continuing with some of the facilities in the system.

For details of the procedure for ending nuclear power supply in Germany, see the Reuters Factbox,, (31.5.11).


Some European states are reading the portends Germany’s way, some another way.

Last week the Swiss government decided on a full shut-down, but slower, like the original German plan, over 15 years from 2019.

The European Union safety review, and agreement on new standards for protection, proposed after the crisis in Japan, is to go ahead; but without mandating controls against terrorist attacks on facilities.

That was a concession demanded by British and French representatives, on the principle that they wanted to keep their legal responsibility for crime matters.

It would be a concession also to the nuclear industry lobby, which has fielded arguments from physicists through to industrialists, that the Fukushima events might actually be demonstrating sustainable limits – not an unanswerable menace.

Both Britain and France to date are keeping to their commitments to nuclear electricity; see EUAustralia Online, “Swiss Nuclear Decision”, 27.5.11.

The British government is suggesting that its system might be developed on an all-commercial basis,  i.e. fully privately owned and run.

Reactor plants were damaged at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan, in the earthquake and tsunami disaster on 11.3.11, causing persistent leakage of radiation, amid desperate efforts to bring the reactors to a cold shut-down.

See EUAustralia Online: “May Day in Germany”, (1.5.11); “Japan nuclear crisis: serious still”, (1.4.11);  “New nuclear safety regime for Europe?”, (22.3.11); “Nuclear debate as Japan crisis continues”, (15.3.11).


BBC News, London, “German nuclear plants to be shut”, 30.5.11., (31.5.11).

Deutsche Welle, Bonn, “German government plans total nuclear shutdown by 2022”, 30.5.11.,,15117148,00.html, (31.5.11).

Reuters, London, “Factbox: German nuclear plants in closure plan”., (31.5.11).

Picture   dw