The 42nd Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology opened in Berlin with an abridged and more focused conference program. The basic political requirements for nuclear energy in Germany have been in a process of radical change since the tsunami and subsequent accident in Japan´s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on 1 March 2011. This process will not be concluded until prior to the Bundestag´s summer recess at the earliest if the results of the safety check and the ethics commission are available and have been politically assessed. The German Atomic Forum (DAtF) and the German Nuclear Society are respecting the primacy of politics and have decided to concentrate the programme of the Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology 2011 on specialist technical and scientific topics and to focus on the analysis of the accident in Japan´s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the opening day.
Dr. Ralf Güldner, President of the DAtF, said in his opening address: "We completely understand that the accident in Japan has triggered uncertainty and worry in German society. However, the safety of our nuclear power plants - the older and newer ones - is no worse after the events in Japan than it was before. They meet all the safety requirements and in some cases they even exceed them considerably. Nowhere in the world are there higher standards than here in Germany." The design of the plants in Fukushima Daiichi did not satisfy the high requirements in Germany on several key points. Unfortunately, public debate in this country largely blanks out these facts.
Obviously, there is now a broad political consensus regarding an accelerated phase-out of nuclear power in Germany. Thoughtful voices are in the minority and barely receive a hearing. "Thoughtlessly and quickly giving up the German nuclear power plants would be linked to higher costs for the whole economy, to the failure to meet our climate targets, to increased dependency on fossil fuels, to less security of supply in the case of electricity, i.e. electricity imports and problems regarding grid stability, not to mention intensive discussions within the European Union," Güldner reminded the audience.
The Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology 2011 is taking place in the Berlin Congress Center from 17 to 19 May. With over 1,600 participants and 50 exhibitors from 16 countries, it is among the world´s largest trade fairs for nuclear engineering and technology. The abridged programme covers a total of 220 workshops and topical sessions.