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29 Jun 2021, 14:38
Benjamin Wehrmann

An 'historic achievement' – German govt praises nuclear exit decision ten years on

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power has been an "historic achievement" that resolved conflicts, reduced accident risks and avoided the production of more nuclear waste, the country's environment ministry (BMU) said on the occasion of the nuclear exit law's 10th anniversary on 30 June this year. The cross-party decision was adopted in parliament in 2011 and reinstated and tightened a phase-out plan already agreed on eleven years earlier but put on hold by chancellor Angela Merkel's government. "Nuclear power belongs to the past, also beyond our borders," environment minister Svenja Schulze said. While nuclear power was losing relevance all across the EU in recent years, the plants that are still running are often outdated after 40 years of operation. "This is worrying me," Schulze said. Nuclear power plants could not just be upgraded, she warned, adding that no lifetime extensions should be granted for existing plants in the EU. Wolfram König, head of Germany's nuclear waste management office BASE, said the phase-out decision paved the way for a much-needed restart of the search for a final nuclear waste repository in the country. "We no longer talk about the pros and cons of nuclear power." This would allow the country to focus resources on the complex task of finding the best location possible for storing the highly radioactive waste indefinitely.

The BMU said that the country's nuclear exit is making good progress, with the number of plants in operation having been reduced from 17 to 6 in the past decade. The last plants will be taken offline at the end of 2022. The ministry stressed that Germany's exit meant that a significant group of nuclear-sceptic countries in Europe had made a powerful ally, with half of EU members never having produced nuclear power at all.

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