"A consensus is possible. But instead of sticking hard and fast to rigid periods of operation, it is more important to find intelligent approaches to a solution," said Otto Majewski, the President of the German Atom Forum at a press conference today in Berlin. The most recent approval for the transportation of fuel elements, issued by the Federal Radiation Protection Office, was described by Mr Majewski as "a late but positive signal. Whether it is of any lasting value will soon be seen."
Majewski explained that, more than anything else, the German operators of nuclear plant need a firm basis on which to plan, especially in view of the rapid changes taking place on the European power market. "It is nothing more than plain common sense to get back - at long last - to a long-term, quantifiable, and reliable energy policy," as the German Atom Forum is clearly demanding of the German government. For this reason, he said, despite many setbacks they are still prepared to make one more attempt at consensus.
"However: consensus is not just a question of the operating period." In addition to a lasting solution to the transportation problem, the retro-active taxation of financial provision for waste disposal, he said, is an unacceptable burden on the operators. Majewski re-affirmed that the companies are determined to put these regulations out of action, through court action if necessary.
Hubertus Schmoldt, president of the mining, chemicals, and energy trade union, also emphasised that the continued development of nuclear technology is an investment in the future. "An over-hasty or premature termination of nuclear energy might not be possible for the foreseeable future, for economic and legal reasons." He went on to say: "Mine is the only trade union still to be arguing in favour of consensus on energy as the way forward into the future, and for it to contain the option of new and even safer nuclear power technology".
The termination of nuclear power that the German Government is planning will only accelerate the already fractious structural changes which the German energy industry is already undergoing, and diverting it, as Schmoldt added, "into a direction which is highly undesirable, particularly from working people?s point of view". The consequence would be a renewed exportation of jobs. Giving up this branch of technology, which is amongst the world`s leaders, "would destroy an enormous know-how potential and also only encourage just that kind of hostility to technology with which we have to struggle in many other industries as well."
The union boss made another point. "The use of nuclear energy is a known factor in our energy mix. In the medium term, it will have to make a worthwhile contribution to power generation. The use of nuclear energy massively supports efforts in the direction of becoming independent of imported electricity, and there is no disputing its beneficial effect on the CO2 balance."
DEUTSCHES ATOMFORUM E.V.