A German court has dismissed a claim for damages by utility EnBW after it sued the German government over its surprise move to shut down nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
A regional court in Bonn, Germany, ruled on Wednesday that EnBW's claim for compensation was unsubstantiated because the power utility had not immediately sought a court injunction against the government's nuclear moratorium.
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011, Berlin reacted to widespread anti-nuclear protests ordering a three-month shutdown of the country's oldest reactors, including EnBW's Neckarwestheim 1 and Phillipsburg 1 reactors situated in the state of Baden-Würrtemberg.
Explaining the verdict, Judge Stefan Bellin said the utility had failed to immediately use "all legal means available to avert any damage" resulting from the closures. The judge also noted that EnBW had expressed doubt about the legality of the moratorium in a press release in April 2011, but it had declared in the same statement that it didn't seek to contest the policy in the courts.
Court rulings pending
Germany's fourth largest power company sought compensation totaling 261 million euros ($296 million), citing German court decisions in 2013 and 2014 in favor of the RWE utility. RWE appealed against the closure of its Biblis reactor under the same moratorium.
"The relevant reasons can be transferred to the EnBW case," EnBW said when it filed the lawsuit in December 2014, adding it had to in order to protect shareholder interests.
However, RWE lodged its claim for damages of 235 million euros immediately after the moratorium had been imposed. According to sources familiar with the case, RWE stood a fair chance of settling the issue with the government, albeit for a smaller sum.
Germany's biggest power company, E.ON, is also seeking damages. It filed a claim in early 2014. E.ON hopes for compensation worth 380 million euros, but it faces the same problem as EnBW.
Moreover, all of Germany's four biggest utilities, which include the Swedish power company Vattenfall, have filed complaints with the country's constitutional court over nuclear policy after Berlin decided in summer 2011 to turn the three-month moratorium into a permanent shutdown for reactors.
uhe/cjc (dpa, Reuters)