Continue nuclear power, says Wulff

from 20 Dezember 2006

(by Diet Simon)

One of Germany's most prominent conservative politicians wants the agreement
between government and the power industry to end nuclear power production to
be scrapped.

The premier of Lower Saxony state, Christian Wulff, of Chancellor Angela
Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said in his New Year's address
that he favours "a creative interpretation" of the coalition agreement at
national level with the co-governing Social Democrats, which confirms the
arrangements to end nuclear power.

Wulff wants the pact to end nuclear power by 2021 reversed in two steps.
"Until the 2009 federal election no nuclear power station has to be taken
off the grid under the agreement," said the regional politician widely
tipped as a future national CDU leader.

To avoid closures of nuclear reactors before the 2009 poll, he said, the
unused power production contingent of the shut down Mülheim-Kärlich station
(125 km northwest of Frankfurt on Main) should be transferred to other
stations. Following strong resistance by local people from the beginning,
Mülheim-Kärlich was taken off the grid in 1988 after only 13 months of

Wulff said in his broadcast message that he didn't want "an exit for
ideological reasons when all the countries surrounding us are extending the
operating times" of their nukes.

Lower Saxony contains Gorleben, a village of 800 where the nation's
highly-active nuclear waste is stored in a hall opponents deride as no safer
than a potato barn, and where a salt deposit has been explored as a possible
final repository.

Exploration was stopped over scientific concerns that the salt was not safe.
Wulff - and Chancellor Merkel - want it resumed.

The only right thing to do was to end the exploration moratorium of the
previous Social Democrat-Greens government, he said.

Wulff was sceptical of the announcement by environment minister, Sigmar
Gabriel, of the co-governing Social Democratic Party, also to explore other
sites for suitability as final dumps.

Although the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats in Berlin don't agree
on nuclear policy, Gabriel also says the salt deposit in Gorleben is
geologically suitable for a final nuclear waste depository but other
locations will be considered. (

"The findings so far about a dense rock cover and hence the barrier function
of the salt were positively confirmed," wrote Gabriel, in response to an
open letter from opponents of nuclear installations in the north German

Wulff said in his address, "From our point of view, other locations will be
seriously considered only after the exploration of Gorleben is finished and
it turns out to be unsuitable."

Gorleben nuclear opponents allege that every new consignment of highly
active nuclear waste into a hall cheek-by-jowl with the exploratory mine
makes permanent dumping in Gorleben more likely. So does the difficulty of
shifting the waste yet again to any other location, given that every
transport costs about 50 million euros to police.

Last month 12 so-called Castor caskets brought to Gorleben raised to 80 the
number in a prefabricated concrete hall protesters say is vulnerable to air
attack. Almost 140 are to be there ultimately. Activists claim that every
Castor casket contains significantly more radioactivity than an Hiroshima

The Gorleben exploration mine is situated about 2 km south of the Elbe
River. Two shafts 933 m and 840 m deep are situated in the centre of the
Gorleben salt dome, which is approximately 14 km long and 4 km wide. The top
of the salt dome (salt wash surface) is about 250 m below the surface, the
salt dome base lies at depths between 3,200 m and 3,400 m.

Bearbeitet am: 31.12.2006/ad

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