Second quarter of 2001

German Government and Utilities Sign Phase-Out Plan

WISE-Paris, 14 June 2001

[Posted 14/06/2001]

One year after the phase out plan was originally issued, the German Government and the four main electricity utilities finally signed the document on 11 June 2001. Two days after the signature there was still confusion at the press departments of Chancellery, Environment Ministry and utilities, contacted by Plutonium Investigation, over the question whether the text was identical with the document dated 14 June 2000 (see 'Decision to end reprocessing in Germany but action delayed'). The spokesperson of Environment Minister Trittin explicitly confirmed that there were no changes to the text.

The plan has now been transcribed into a bill that is expected to be presented to Parliament within weeks. The key points are the limitation of the electricity generation per plant — however, a production "credit" can be transferred from one reactor to the other — the prohibition of the construction of new nuclear reactors and reprocessing plants, the prohibition of shipments of spent nuclear fuel to reprocessing plants as of 1 July 2005 and the increase of civil responsibility of the operator in case of accident by a factor of 10 to 2.5 billion Euros.

Environmental groups protested against the agreement that is considered to push an effective phase out of reprocessing and nuclear power too far into the future. Government and utility representatives issued various statements.

Gerhard Schröder, German Chancellor, highlighted three points in a speech after the signature of the agreement:

"1. We have fixed a clear end for the use of nuclear energy. But the procedure agreed upon takes into account at the same time the justified economic interest of the electricity utilities.

"2. We have fixed a clear end for reprocessing. This means less transports and less highly toxic plutonium. However, the direct final storage [of spent fuel] is also economically the more sensible way.

"3. We get a fairer burden sharing in spent fuel management [Entsorgung]. The projected intermediate storage at the nuclear power plants will significantly reduce the transports. In particular the intermediate storage sites in Gorleben and Ahaus will profit therefrom."

Jürgen Trittin, Minister of the Environment, Nature Protection and Reactor Safety, in a letter to the members of the Green Party, dated 11 June 2001:

"Over the next few years it is crucial to find a solution for all the nuclear waste — and that is a national solution. Russia’s offer to reprocess and store [intermediate storage] the nuclear waste from the West, is an irresponsible playing with the safety and health of the people in Russia — a country that already contains contaminated regions of the size of [the Land] Brandenburg. And after tomorrow it would bring about the same problem that we get back today from La Hague and Sellafield."

The four utilities HEW, EnBW, E.ON, and RWE signed a joint statement, which contained the following paragraph:

"The agreement is a pragmatic compromise and therefore a success for both sides. It leaves the different ideas of the future of nuclear energy untouched. However, the agreement cannot replace a global energy consensus that goes beyond political party borders. It remains the task of politics to re-establish such a consensus in which the Länder should be integrated."

Related document:

Decision to end reprocessing in Germany but action delayed
Agreement between the Federal Government and the Power Supply Companies of 14 June 2000 [Excerpt]
English translation by the German Government, 22 June 2000

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