Over and over again - and most recently during the extraordinary heat wave in the summer of 2003 - the German nuclear power plants have contributed significantly to a guaranteed supply of electric power. Contrary to other energy sources such as wind and running river water, the availability of which is highly limited during long weather periods of high-pressure with little wind and rain, the reactors in operation produced a total of 13.16 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in August this year. They thereby surpassed the production figure of August last year (which was 11.94 billion kWh) by about 10 %. Nuclear power currently provides almost half of the base load power supply of the Federal Republic. A further 44 % are provided by lignite.
The Federal Environment Minister`s claim - made on the occasion of the Atomic Energy Law Symposium in Cologne - that nuclear power puts supply safety at risk is reduced to absurdity by this positive balance. Developments over the past months have rather more made it clear that all ideologically motivated phase-out scenarios render any sustained energy supply impossible that has to consider supply safety, profitability and environmental compatibility in equal measure. What is necessary is a balanced energy mix, to which all energy sources have to contribute.
The issue of the disposal of radioactive waste has been settled in the agreement concluded by the Federal Government and the power utilities on 11 June 2001. Regarding Gorleben it was agreed that exploration of the site - irrespective of its potential suitability confirmed by the Federal Government - was to be interrupted for at least three (from October 2000), but no more than 10 years to clarify conceptual issues. With respect to the Konrad repository it was agreed to allow a court review of the plan approval decision by withdrawing the application for immediate enforcement. All this is contrasted by the exploration of further sites and the overall new development of a procedure in the search for alternative sites. Against this background, the German Atomic Forum considers it beside the point and unjustified to demand that a share of the costs of additional site exploration programmes be carried by the power utilities.
The Federal Environment Ministry`s proposal to concentrate nuclear regulatory powers at Federal Government level is off the mark. The German Atomic Forum believes that if this suggestion is taken up, the necessary expertise at Länder level will be washed out and lost. Looking at the current operation of the plants as well as at their decommissioning in the future, it is necessary to preserve the existing sound knowledge of the respective plants and the corresponding local know-how. Such constitutional deliberations furthermore require an amendment of Germany`s Basic Law. We do not think that this will find the consent of the necessary majorities, nor of the Bundesrat.
DEUTSCHES ATOMFORUM E.V.