|von Diet Simon -
Should Germans pitch out their Social Democrat-Greens government next month because they think the Conservatives will put more money back into their purses, theyll be getting a nuclear industry boost into the bargain.
The CDU/CSU Conservatives are promising to let nuclear power stations run longer and to press ahead with two highly controversial waste storage sites. The present government of Social Democrats and Greens has committed to ending nuclear power production but its anti-nuclear critics say nothing much has moved in that regard. Under an agreement between the government and the power producers, the last nuke is to be taken off the grid in 2021.
Opinion polls show seven out of 10 Germans opposing nuclear power, including a large proportion of those who say they intend to vote CDU/CSU. 67 per cent of the CDU/CSU voters dont want a nuclear power station near them.
But given the worries over jobs, medical care, pensions, taxes and other pressures on your ordinary Germans purse, nuclear policy is way down on the list of issues swaying votes. By contrast, dropping nuclear energy was one of the bigger vote-getters for the present government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröders Social Democrats and the environmentalist Greens of vice-chancellor and foreign minister, Joschka Fischer.
Against the odds, Greenpeace, one of the highest-profile environmentalist groups in the country, is valiantly trying to keep the issue on the boil, demanding at demonstrations that the 17 remaining nukes be switched off and that clean energy production be promoted more.
The future belongs to the renewables, nuclear power stations are a relic from the past, argues Greenpeace expert, Christian Bussau. Those wanting to create jobs and to strengthen medium-sized enterprises have to look forward, and that means replacing atomic and coal power stations as fast as possible by decentralised solar, wind, hydro and biomass power stations. Longer production lives for nukes would merely preserve the 35,000 jobs in that industry a few more years, whereas renewable energies had spawned 130,000 new jobs in recent years.
People in Germany have good reasons for rejecting atomic power, says Bussau, its dangerous and uncontrollable and the problem of the radioactive waste has not been solved. Greenpeace demands that all political parties exit from the industry. The technology musnt be exported and the specially dug salt mine in Gorleben, northern Germany, mustnt become a final dump.
The Conservatives are promising that the longer nuke running times will bring down electricity prices. Their critics ridicule that as wishful thinking. Even a top CDU official, Andreas Troge, who heads the Federal Environment Agency, had warned against a turnaround on nuclear policy and dismissed as unrealistic the promise of cheaper electricity. A top executive of the leading Eon power company and president of the German Atomic Forum, Walter Hohlefelder, put it like this: The power price forms in the market and thats how it should stay.
Final storage is technically possible in Germany, Hohlefelder argues. We have an approved final storage for low and medium radioactive waste in Schacht Konrad. Gorleben is suitable for highly radioactive material. The moratorium on exploration in Gorleben should be lifted. If one wants it politically, disposal is workable, as one can see in other countries.
Asked whether the 70% opponents of nuclear power impressed him, Hohlefelder said in a newspaper interview that such numbers always had to be taken seriously. But there are also polls showing the openness in the population growing again. Did the industry stand by its agreement with the present government to end nuclear power production? Certainly. The agreement is valid. In the situation it was made in, it was right to limit the power output. The nuclear power stations are running without political disturbances. It was possible to resume waste transports and so prevent congestion of the power stations.
And if the Conservatives win power? If the new contracting party wants to talk to
us about the agreement we will certainly do so. Basically, we welcome the offer by
[CDU-CSU leader] Angela Merkel of longer running times. It would be paradox to ask us not
to be glad about that. Hohlefelder also contends that theyd make the power
supply more secure because renewables couldnt in the foreseeable future fill the gap
left by exiting from nuclear power.
Under the exit pact, nukes at Biblis A, Neckarwestheim 1, Biblis B and
Ms Merkel like most politicians is like a weather vane, turning with whatever wind happens to opportune. When she was environment minister in 1998 she said, The big aim is to raise the proportion of renewable energy sources to 50% by the middle of next century. In the present election campaign she has said: I regard it as not very realistic to raise the proportion of renewable energy sources in the amount consumed to 20% by 2020. ( ) It is unrealistic to expect that renewable energy sources can close the gap that would be ripped open by early shutdown of the atomic power stations.
About 50 Greenpeace activists recently blocked the entrance to the Gorleben salt mine. They chained themselves to its entrance gates and blocked the drive into the grounds with their bodies. They pointed to the geological flaws of the salt deposit. They argue that an area of 7.5 square kilometres lacks waterproof cover, which would allow radioactive materials to penetrate to the ground water and contaminate it. Although the salt plug was controversial from the beginning, opponents allege that the mine was not exploratory as claimed but from the outset was built in the dimensions required by a final waste dump.
Two recent court judgements have encouraged nuclear opponents. But they also show the police state methods being used against them.
(Adaptations by Diet Simon)
Bearbeitet am: 21.08.2005/ad
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