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German parliament approves nuclear plants life extension

November 11, 2022

Fearing an energy crunch, German lawmakers have approved a decision to delay the closure of the country's three remaining power plants.

Water vapor rises from the cooling tower of the nuclear power plant
The Isar 2 reactor was taken off the grid for maintenance in preparation for the phaseout extensionImage: picture alliance/dpa

Lawmakers in the German Bundestag voted on Friday in favor of keeping Germany's three remaining nuclear plants in operation until April.

Germany had planned to complete a phaseout of nuclear power by the end of 2022. But Chancellor Olaf Scholz ordered the extension in October amid looming energy shortages in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Lawmakers were voting on changing Germany's Atomic Energy Law, which is the legal framework of the extension. The revisions clearly stipulate that there will be no new extension beyond April. 

Environment Minister Steffi Lemke told broadcaster RTL on Friday that the law "clearly states that the shutdown will take place on April 15." 

The nuclear power plants are Isar 2 in the southern state of Bavaria, Emsland in northwestern Germany and Neckarwestheim 2 in the southwestern Baden-Württemberg state. 

According to German broadcaster ZDF, the draft law stipulated that "the safety of the [nuclear] systems is continuously ensured at a high level by comprehensive state supervision."

However, an extensive periodic safety review, typically carried out every 10 years, would not be run on the three plants due to "the extremely short period of continued operation," ZDF reported, citing the draft law. 

Why is the extension controversial? 

The nuclear power lifespan extension triggered an intense debate within Germany's coalition government.

Scholz's decision is seen as a compromise between the demands of his coalition partners, the Greens and the business-friendly FDP. 

The FDP is pushing to keep the reactors active until 2024.

But the Greens have long opposed nuclear energy, and their party was partly built on post-war anti-nuclear movements.

While admitting it was difficult to support the extension, the Greens ended up giving it their backing under the condition that it is temporary

Germany set to keep nuclear plants running

fb/wmr (dpa, Reuters)

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