German power company executives from E.ON, RWE, EnBW and HEW, have signed an agreement with the chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, over the shutdown of the country’s 19 operating reactors. Stade KKS will be the first plant to be closed, in 2003, with the others following over the next 20 years or more.
Chief executive officer of RWE, Dr Dietmar Kuhnt, said that, by signing the agreement, “the German power industry pursues a clear aim: it intends to use nuclear energy for as long as possible without any political interference. The federal government has guaranteed the undisturbed operation of nuclear power plants as well as the management of nuclear waste.” The agreement is based on last year’s compromise deal worked out between the industry and environment minister Jürgen Trittin. The opposition party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has said it would reverse the decision if it won next year’s elections.
During two recent conferences of the German Nuclear Forum (DAtF) representatives of German electricity utilities said they expected nuclear energy would be reconsidered in future. During the publication of the VDEW annual report the president of VDEW, Günter Marquis, said that phasing out nuclear energy would go against the government’s climate protection policies.
A similar statement was given at the annual meeting of KTG and DAtF at Dresden by Gert Maichel, member of the board of directors of RWE and president of the DAtF. He said he could see no sign of other countries following Germany’s example of a nuclear phaseout. Under the present political situation there was, however, no other option available than to come to an arrangement with the government to at least guarantee the undisturbed operation of the German nuclear plants for the years to come.
As part of the agreement, RWE agreed to refrain from recommissioning the controversial Mülheim-Kärlich plant. The company has since filed an application with the Environmental Ministry of Rhineland-Palatinate for dismantling the plant. Around 175 employees are presently involved in post-operation and preparatory activities for the shutdown of Mülheim-Kärlich. Dismantling is expected to commence in 2003, and is likely to take ten years.