Nuclear files could "paralyse" German regional government

from 15.06.2009

By Diet Simon

A German regional government says it could no longer function if it gives public access to cabinet files about the establishment of a nuclear waste dump in its area.

The admission comes from the Christian Democrat (CDU, conservative) government of the northern state of Lower Saxony, where 32 years ago a previous CDU government licensed the dump near the village of Gorleben, which at the time was close to the border with former communist East Germany.

Asked to make the files available to the environment committee of the Lower Saxony parliament, the premier’s office refused, arguing that the government’s "Handlungsfähigkeit" would be endangered. The word translates variously as legal capacity, ability to act, capacity to act, capacity to contract.

The refusal was revealed by an opposition Social Democrat MP, Andrea Schröder-Ahlers, after the latest sitting of the committee.

She says she suspects that something is being hidden.

A spokesman for the Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow-Dannenberg (BI), the organisation resisting nuclear dumping at Gorleben, says the refusal is an admission that the choice of Gorleben “had absolutely nothing to do” with a scientifically grounded selection procedure.

Originally Gorleben was also to get a nuclear waste processing plant. Wolfgang Ehmke, media spokesman of the BI, says that in 1979, two years after Gorleben was named as the nuclear multi-purpose site, public protest made the then CDU premier, Ernst Albrecht, drop the recycling plant idea but he held on to exploration of a Gorleben salt deposit for final nuclear waste storage.

"That three decades on the CDU-led government speaks of the loss of its ability to function if these files became accessible is tantamount to a plain admission that non-objective criteria played the decisive role in selecting Gorleben,” Ehmke writes in a media release.

“The exploration lie has just been busted, now the truth has to be finally brought to light why Albrecht chose Gorleben.”

The exploration lie Ehmke refers to is a federal government agency’s admission that the mine dug in the Gorleben salt to “explore” its waste-holding suitability was already dimensioned as a dump and cost three times as much as it would have if it had just been “explored”.

The anti-nuclear activists have always argued that Gorleben was chosen because it was close to communist East Germany and that because of its rural isolation and small population little opposition was expected.

The Gorleben resistance is in fact probably the liveliest anti-nuclear focus across Germany.

Thousands of demonstrators go there from all over the country every time a new shipment of spent nuclear fuel is railed through Germany and France after processing in Normandy and finally trucked about 25 kilometres into an above-ground “temporary” storage hall near Gorleben.

Bürgerinitiative Umweltschutz Lüchow - Dannenberg e.V.
Rosenstr. 20 29439 Lüchow

Office: Tel: 05841-4684 Fax: -3197

Bearbeitet am: 15.06.2009/ad

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