German Reaction to Terrorism: Shut Down Nuclear Plants

BERLIN, Germany, October 10, 2001 (ENS) - German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin yesterday turned the screw on a nuclear power sector already due to be phased out by 2030 by threatening emergency plant closures in case of a credible threat of terrorist attack.

Speaking at an industry symposium in Berlin, Trittin said nuclear security is at the top of his agenda following the September 11 assaults in New York and Washington.

Their lethal impact underlined the importance of Germany's nuclear phase-out plan, Trittin stressed. Security would be guaranteed not by sealing aeroplane cockpits but by closing down nuclear power stations according to the government's plan, he said.

Trittin

German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin (Photo courtesy Leila Mead/IISD)
Trittin stressed the importance of reassessing current safety precautions to consider what extra measures might be needed in times of heightened danger. The environment ministry is currently awaiting a report from Germany's commission on reactor safety, requested following the events of September 11.

Environment ministry sources confirmed that Trittin's hard line on nuclear security is also a response to recent revelations of safety lapses at the Philippsburg nuclear power station, which was ordered to close temporarily over the weekend.

Germany will phase out its 19 nuclear power plants gradually after each has had a lifespan of 32 years. Nuclear power currently accounts for about 30 percent of all Germany's energy consumption.

Always unhappy with the government's extended phase-out time line for the nuclear industry, environmentalists used the conference to reiterate their view that all nuclear stations must now be shut immediately.

"There can be no guarantee of absolute security against such terrorist attacks," Friends of the Earth Germany (Bund) said in a statement.

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{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email: envdaily@ends.co.uk}