Nuclear power generation and waste transfers continue in Germany despite coronavirus crisis
There is no plan to shut down any of Germany’s nuclear power plants due to the coronavirus pandemic, and a nuclear waste shipment to Russia will go ahead as planned despite local protests, Malte Kreutzfeldt reports in die tageszeitung (taz). In response to a parliamentary question from the Green Party, the German environment ministry said it does not maintain its own forecasts as to how many employees might be unable to work at the nation’s nuclear power plants due to the pandemic, but instead relies on plant operators to manage any staffing shortfall. The ministry sees existing regulations as sufficient, Kreutzfeldt writes. "In the event of the loss of an employee in a nuclear power plant, there are substitution regulations to cover the loss of individual staff,” a ministry spokesperson told the taz. "If a plant cannot guarantee the minimum staffing level for safe operation, it must be shut down." But the ministry has no plans to shut down any nuclear plants as a precaution, the taz reports. The Green Party criticised this approach. "In contrast to large parts of the economy, the nuclear industry continues to operate at full capacity, even though emergency response during a pandemic is a particular challenge," Green MP Sylvia Kotting-Uhl told the taz. Meanwhile, a shipment of radioactive waste from a uranium plant in the German city of Gronau to Russia was scheduled to go ahead as planned on 6 April despite protests from local activists and the nearby city of Münster, the taz reports.
Germany plans to phase out all nuclear power by 2022. There are currently six nuclear plants in operation in the country, as of early 2020. Nuclear power provided about 12 percent of Germany's gross electricity last year, whereas in 2006 it was still the largest contributor.