The German Atomic Forum (DAtF) sees an upward trend for nuclear power in Europe. This is the central message coming from the Winter Conference of the DAtF that is taking place in Berlin, this year under the motto "Nuclear Power and Supply Safety in the Enlarged European Union". The conference is attended by around 200 international participants from science, industry, and politics. Providing on average around 35 percent of power, nuclear is the second-largest source of electricity in the European Union (EU) after fossil fuels. All eight EU countries operating nuclear power plants today are going to continue using nuclear power at least for the time being. Apart from Finland, where a new reactor is to be connected to the grid in 2009 already, France is now also paving the way to expand its use of nuclear power. In 2003, the majority of the Swiss population voted in favour of continuing to use nuclear power, and five EU candidate countries also want to stick to nuclear power generation in future. This record shows that the German Federal Government`s nuclear phase-out policy is not setting an example internationally.
In his opening address, DAtF President Dr. Gert Maichel presented the positive production record of nuclear power in Germany (see separate press release). However, he strongly criticised the plans of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) concerning final disposal. He said that a completely new site selection procedure was highly expensive and would delay unnecessarily the commissioning of a repository. Furthermore, with the Gorleben site, Germany already disposed of a project which was suitable without a doubt. Maichel also said he did not understand why the BMU wanted to switch policy to a "single-repository concept". In this context, he referred to the recent report of the Federal Audit Office in which the BMU approach to the investigations so far was considered to be "off the target, uneconomical and little transparent". Both the "National Disposal Plan" project group and the AkEnd, which was set up by the BMU itself, could not find any advantages in this concept. Dr. Maichel therefore demanded: "Instead of becoming set on a "single-repository concept", the Konrad and Gorleben projects should be pursued without delay. And instead of putting all efforts into a new nationwide search with an uncertain outcome, it would be better to clear up any doubts about the Gorleben salt dome so that exploration can continue as soon as from 2005." Dr. Maichel continued: "The idea that the industry should pay the additional costs that such a new site selection procedure would entail is rigorously rejected. On the contrary, the industry insists once again that the Federal Government impose as promised a development freeze and thereby secure the Gorleben site for the future." The DAtF thus calls upon the Federal Government once again to keep without restrictions its promises made in the Agreement of June 11, 2001, also with regard to the issue of disposal.