Germany ups safety plans for nuclear power plants | News | DW | 10.03.2014
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Germany ups safety plans for nuclear power plants

The German government has proposed a dramatic increase in safety measures for areas surrounding nuclear power plants. The proposal coincides with the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster.

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Boosting nuclear precautions

Germany's 16 federal states are responsible for nuclear security, but the government in Berlin has now made recommendations which are based on a report by the country's independent watchdog, the commission for protection against radiation.

These include an expansion from two to five kilometers (three miles) of the "security radius" that would be evacuated in case of a serious accident in a nuclear power plant.

It also suggests a doubling from 10 to 20 kilometers of the area from which people would have to be evacuated within 24 hours of an accident.

The nuclear commission was set up to review nuclear security procedures in Germany in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe.

The proposals also include distributing iodine tablets to the population in a radius of 100 kilometers around the site of the accident - and to children and pregnant women throughout the entire country.

Germany became the first major industrial power to announce it would phase out nuclear power following the explosions and reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.

On March 11 of that year an earthquake and a tsunami struck Japan's eastern coast, killing 16,000 people. The Fukushima nuclear power plant's reactors were damaged, leading to the worst nuclear disaster since the accident in Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986.

In a complete turn-about, Chancellor Angela Merkel, a physicist and proponent of nuclear power, who had previously halted Germany's nuclear phase-out, admitted that she had lost faith in the technology through the events in Japan.

The seven oldest German nuclear power plants were switched off at short notice.

Germany still operates nine nuclear power plants, but they are all to be shut down by 2022.

rg/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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