Celebration as Last German Nuclear Plants Power Down

Common Dreams – By Brett Wilkins – April 21, 2023

“The United States would do well to follow this example, rather than continue to fund nuclear power, the slowest, and most expensive of all energy choices,” asserted one activist.

Environmentalists in Europe and beyond cheered as Germany’s last three nuclear power plants went offline over the weekend, a controversial move the country’s environmental minister hailed as the start of “a new era of energy production.”

The Associated Pressreports the Emsland, Neckarwestheim II, and Isar II nuclear plants were shut down shortly before midnight Saturday after decades of protests and pressure by anti-nuclear campaigners.

“Millions of people worked towards this day for years,” Greenpeace Germany managing director Roland Hipp wrote in an opinion piece published Sunday by Common Dreams. “People who protested against reprocessing plants, nuclear waste transport, unsafe nuclear waste storage facilities, and the construction of new nuclear power plants. Those decades of resistance were worth it.”

“The German nuclear phaseout is a victory of reason over the lust for profit; over powerful corporations and their client politicians,” Hipp added. “It is a people-powered success against all the odds.”

Germany’s nuclear shutdown—which was originally scheduled for completion by the end of 2022—was postponed as part of a compromise by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a member of the Social Democratic Party, due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent fuel shortages.

The phaseout—a key component of Germany’s plan to produce 80% of the country’s power from renewable sources by the end of the decade—is highly controversial, as numerous experts including former NASA climate scientist James Hansen urged Scholz to keep the reactors online.

Opponents of the phaseout argued that Germany’s plan to replace the roughly 6% of electricity generated by the three shuttered nuclear plants with renewables, gas, and coal—the latter of which fuels more than 30% of the country’s power—poses a greater climate risk than keeping the reactors in operation.

However, German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke, a member of Alliance 90/The Greens, argued that “the risks of nuclear power are ultimately unmanageable.”

Last week, Lemke visited Fukushima, Japan, site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster—the worst since the Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine in 1986, when the country was part of the Soviet Union.

Juergen Trittin, parliamentary leader of Alliance 90/The Greens, said that “we are putting an end to a dangerous, unsustainable, and costly technology.”

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Posted by Teri Perticone


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