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Germany pushes ahead with nuclear phase-out

December 31, 2019

The Philippsburg power station is one of the only plants still operating in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg. Germany has vowed to start decommissioning every nuclear power facility by the end of 2022.

Philippsburg nuclear power plant
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Operators began shutting down the Philippsburg nuclear power plant in southern Germany on Tuesday, as the country puts into motion its plan to begin decommissioning all 17 of its atomic energy facilities by the end of 2022.

After 35 years on the grid, Block 2 of the Philippsburg station was fully turned off. Neckarwestheim 2, the other remaining nuclear plant in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, is not set to be turned off until the end of the nuclear phase-out plan.

Philippsburg had previously supplied 6% of Baden-Württemberg's energy. However, nuclear power has long been unpopular in the region, which has a Green party leader in State Premier Winfried Kretschmann.

The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan led to widespread anti-atomic-power protests across Germany. Two months after the accident, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that all plants would be closed over the next decade, making Germany the second country after Italy to shut down all of its atomic energy stations.

The German Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) welcomed the news. A BUND spokesman said the group hoped to see the end of nuclear power being "conjured up again and again as a supposed healing charm and climate savior."

From the point of view of safety, Wolfram König — who heads the German government's office for the phase-out — welcomed the fact that more nuclear power stations were being taken offline. However, König also warned that the country still faced a great "challenge" in trying to phase out both coal and atomic energy at the same time.

es/rc (dpa, AFP)