Germany goes for nuclear phase-out

Germany's new government has announced a range of environmental, including a complete phase-out of nuclear power and a range of environmental taxes.

The new government, led by Gerhard Schroeder, is a coalition between the Social Democrat Party and the Green Party – with three Greens in the Cabinet (Environment, Health, and Foreign Ministers), it is the most environment-friendly government ever seen in Europe.

Although the Greens had to water down, or abandon many of their policies to get into power, a number of green measures have been adopted, including a commitment to end all nuclear power, which currently accounts for around one third of Germany’s electricity.

However no definite deadlines have been set for closing down nuclear plants. Germany’s utility companies have been given one year to propose how and by when to completely shut down Germany’s 19 nuclear reactors.

The SPD/Green policy also commits the new government to altering the German Atomic Law’s provisions for the disposition of spent nuclear fuel discharged by the country’s reactors. In the past, the Law allowed the German utilities to export highly radioactive spent fuel to Britain and France as part of “reprocessing” contracts with the British and French state-controlled plutonium companies, BNFL and Cogema.

Under the new policy, to be initiated within the first 90 days of the new government, the German utilities will instead be forced to directly store their spent fuel at the reactor site where it is created.

According to Greenpeace, Nuclear reprocessing contracts worth at least US$1.4 billion with British and French companies are likely to be cancelled as a result of the phase-out.

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