Environment Minister Dietzel of Hesse Complains about Berlin Government's Delaying Tactics

Berlin, 19.01.2000

"If we take Biblis, the Hessian nuclear power plant, as an example, it can be seen that the socialist-environmentalist policy of terminating nuclear power is being attempted, absolutely deliberately and with complete disregard for the ordinary citizen, on the backs of the people involved, at the price of jobs, and at the price of a modern energy policy." This was the declaration by the Hessian Environment Minister Wilhelm Dietzel, of the CDU, at a conference arranged today (19th January) by the German Atom Forum in Berlin. Dietzel said that the policy which Hesse pursued for more than eight years with the long-term aim of terminating nuclear power generation has failed. "All it has done is that it has made people feel anxious, jeopardised jobs, and prevented Biblis from raising its safety standards."

The national go-it-alone termination of nuclear energy which the socialist-environmentalist German Government is striving to attain, the Minister went on to say, makes no sense in the liberalised electricity market. "It does not even pay a safety dividend, but only produces enormous disadvantages for the environment and the economy. Neighbouring countries to the east and to the west of us are staying with nuclear energy. As a result, within Europe more nuclear power plants will be coming on stream, right on our doorstep, which unfortunately cannot boast our high safety standards." By terminating nuclear energy, he said, Germany would be dispensing with high-grade technology which is regarded all over the world as the hallmark of the highest levels of technology and safety, Mr Dietzel went on to say. He therefore believes in "the peaceful use of nuclear energy - but only at the highest possible level of safety. In the question of safety, we are not going to make any concessions, or give any discounts, or yield any ground."

The Hessian environment minister described the behaviour of the Federal Environment Minister, Jürgen Trittin, as very odd indeed. "At the end of October he forbade me to issue any further safety approvals under Section 7 of the Nuclear Act without his consent. Trittin is thus forcing Hesse into an unacceptably different position from the other States. One can search for ever in the text of his instructions for comprehensible explanations to justify this extraordinary course of action and still not find them. My explanation for his attitude is: the instructions were drafted and issued in Bonn by civil servants from the departmental head up to the Secretary of State level but always by the same people who for the previous eight years have been mainly prescribing the delaying and blockading tactics in the predecessor socialist-environmentalist government in Hesse. It seems to me that the delaying and blockading tactics previously practised in Hesse are now being continued in Bonn and Berlin by the same people, using the resources of the Federal Supervisory Office. Many of the safety improvements at Biblis A appear to run counter to the personal aims of the people now responsible for government at the federal level. Greater safety at Biblis apparently does not fit in with the socialist-environmental fairy-tale of a "scrap-iron reactor".

It is in this context, he said, that one should look at the ban on Castor transport movements that has been in force since May 1998. Dietzel called for an immediate end to this blockading policy, "because the waste-disposal situation at German nuclear power plants is worsening dramatically. This also applies to Biblis. According to information from the operator, Reactor B will have to be shut down this spring if by then no spent fuel elements can be disposed of or brought into intermediate storage. The Federal Environment Minister apparently wants to delay the transportation of spent fuel elements in order to force through the ideologically desired termination of nuclear energy through the back door." Dietzel went on to say: "I hope that the most recent announcements by the Federal Government will soon lead to precise transportation approvals and to transport movements. It is necessary to dispose of spent fuel elements properly - it is part of the safety standard we are insisting on. Intermediate storage at the locations is what it is called - temporary."

An intelligent energy policy, he added, is the crucial key to Germany`s future in increasingly global competition. "Adequate, environmentally gentle, safe, and cheap energy is an absolute prerequisite for the maintenance of a good infrastructure in Germany," and this includes making increased use of regenerative sources of energy, "even though these on their own cannot replace nuclear energy. That is why we are staying with the peaceful use of nuclear energy so long as there are really no alternatives", said Mr Dietzel, the Hessian Environment Minister.


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