Swedish Nuclear Power Plant Must Go Off-stream for Political Reasons

Berlin, 30.11.1999

In Sweden today, 30th November, at 11.00 pm, for the first time in the world a nuclear power plant - Barsebäck 1 - will go off-stream for purely political reasons. The Supreme Court in Stockholm had rejected an application for an injunction from the operating company, Sydkraft, on Monday 29th November.

There have never been any safety problems at Barsebäck 1, nor difficulties in gaining the acceptance of the local population, nor profitability problems. However, the close-down will involve compensation: the operating company, Sydkraft, will be given the corresponding amount of capacity from the Swedish state nuclear power company, Vattenfall. This owns the nuclear power subsidiary Ringhals, which operates four reactors, and the Barsebäck 2 reactor will now be affiliated to them. Vattenfall owns 74.2 percent, Sydkraft 25.8 percent.

As compensation for the shares, the Swedish government is paying Vattenfall 5.7 billion Kroner (about DM 1.29 billion) in four instalments. In addition to this, the state will pay another 3.3 billion Kroner (about DM 750 million) a year as an operating cost allowance.

The politically motivated shut-down of Barsebäck 1 has triggered off a fundamental debate: Sydkraft had long ago obtained a ruling that the Swedish closure decision would have to be reviewed by the European Court of Justice, but this has yet to hand down its ruling. According to a recent opinion poll, 68 percent of the population argues in favour of continuing nuclear energy operations, 22 percent are in favour of a rapid close-down, and 6 percent would like nuclear power to be extended.

The example of Barsebäck shows that the politically enforced closure of a nuclear power plant is not available free of charge.


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