German Chancellor Merkel delays extending lifespan of nuclear reactors

March 15th, 2011 - 2:40 am ICT by BNO News  

BERLIN, GERMANY (BNO NEWS) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday announced that the government decided to delay by three months the plans for extending the running time of its nuclear reactors, DPA news agency reported.

The delay came six months after the coalition government authorized to extend the lifespan of the German reactors. This action caused controversy as opposition called for switching the reactors off.

However, Merkel said that the delay was a consequence of the recent events in Japan. In addition, she announced that a three-month investigation into atomic energy plants’ safety will take place in the mean time.

“The events in Japan have taught us that something, which all scientific data suggested to be impossible, could become a reality after all. We cannot return to business as usual,” Chancellor Merkel said.

On Saturday, approximately 40,000 people formed a 45-kilometre human chain in Baden-Wuerttemberg demanding an immediate end to the use of nuclear energy. On Monday, Merkel said that some might be closed while the probe is completed.

“This would mean that some of the oldest reactors will be turned off, at least temporarily, almost immediately. Safety stands above everything,” added Merkel.

In September 2010, Merkel’s coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats agreed to extend the lifespan of its 17 nuclear plants, pushing back a pledge of gradual phase-out of nuclear energy by former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Under the deal of Schroeder and his Green party coalition, older nuclear plants would remain active for 8 more years beyond 2021 while the recent ones would remain in production for 14 years, until 2035.

After Merkel’s announcement, Germany’s oldest nuclear reactor, Biblis A, is likely to remain active until May. On the other hand, second-oldest nuclear generator, Neckarwestheim I, will be closed immediately. The nuclear reactors were opened in 1974 and 1976 respectively.

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