Berlin: German on Tuesday ordered a
temporary shut-down of seven oldest nuclear reactors in the
country, a day after it announced a thorough review of the
safety systems of all 17 such units in the wake of the
unfolding atomic disaster in Japan.
Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists after a
meeting with the premiers of five states where the atomic
power plants are located that seven reactors which went on
stream before 1980 will be shut down until mid-July.
In addition, an eighth reactor, which began operating
in the northern state of Schleswig Holstein in 1983, but was
taken out of the power grid after a series of accidents, will
remain closed indefinitely, Merkel said.
A government order on the temporary closure of the
reactors has been issued on the basis of a provision in the
country`s new energy law, which empowers the federal and state
governments to take necessary measures to deal with an
emergency situation without amending the law.
National security has utmost priority in taking this
decision, she said.
Chancellor Merkel on Monday announced a three-month
moratorium on the governments controversial plans to extend
the life span of all 17 reactors on an average by 12 years,
which was agreed by her cabinet about six months ago and
signed into law by President Christian Wulff at
the end of last year.
The seven reactors will remain closed during the
moratorium and a planned review of reactor safety systems,
which are scheduled to last till July 15.
The chancellor left it open whether any of the older
reactors will be taken out permanently. A decision will be
taken on the basis of the outcome of the safety review and in
consultation with the state governments and operators of the
power plants during the three-month period, she said.
Germany`s Minister for Economic Affairs and Technology
Rainer Bruederle, who was present at the meeting, said that
even though only the nine new reactors will continue to
generate electricity during the next three months, the country
has sufficient electricity to meet its power needs without the
share of the seven reactors.
At present, 23 per cent of the country`s electricity
supply comes from the atomic sector.
As Chancellor Merkel met the state premiers in the
chancellery, thousands of anti-nuclear activists and members
of the opposition parties demonstrated outside demanding a
permanent closing down of the older reactors and a reversal of
the governments decision to extend the life span of the
Sigmar Gabriel, Chairman of the opposition Social
Democratic Party (SPD) criticised Chancellor Merkel for lying
and cheating the public when she declared six months ago that
all reactors are absolutely safe and they are unavoidable to
ensure the country`s electricity supply. One thing is certain
today that she was not telling the truth, he said.