Germany - Plutonium Investigation n°4/5

Future Evolution

The domestic German plutonium industry is being "abgewickelt" - a term meaning wrapped up which is used for run down East German companies which are closed down in the aftermath of unification. The leading nuclear manufacturer Siemens is turning towards exports to compensate for the diminished markets in Germany. While Siemens has an undertaking with Framatome in the joint venture NPI, in 1997 it shocked both the French industry and authorities with the news that it had struck a deal with the British BNFL, the key competitor of the French nuclear fuel industry, to set up a joint venture for nuclear services (nuclear fuel, decommissioning etc.). Siemens is also looking into the possibilities of selling parts of the abandoned commercial MOX plant at Hanau.

While no new nuclear power plant has been ordered in Germany since 1980, there are no signs to indicate that the future would be rosy for the industry. Utilities have already acknowledged this fact by exporting to France and the United Kingdom the activities they have not been able to continue in Germany. Thus, opposition to nuclear activities in Germany in a way favours nuclear activities in the two other countries. Even though this shift might satisfy local concerns in Germany, it raises new questions about these same activities in France and in the United Kingdom. The opposition in Germany has drawn consequences out of this analysis and has significantly stepped up its campaign against spent fuel transports to the plutonium factories in France and the UK. It is true that the boomerang in form of radioactive waste packages from La Hague did not exactly receive an enthusiastic welcome in Germany either. No wonder.

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