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Energy crisis: Söder and Merz visit nuclear power plants in a dispute over longer deadlines

Energy crisis: Söder and Merz visit nuclear power plants in a dispute over longer deadlines

vIn the context of the debate over longer nuclear lifetimes, CDU leader Friedrich Merz and CSU president Markus Söder visited the Isar 2 power plant near Landshut in Bavaria on Thursday. The visit fits the picture: Union party bosses have been campaigning for weeks to extend the life of the remaining reactors due to the energy crisis.

Immediately after the visit, CDU leader Friedrich Merz, in view of the looming energy crisis, called for a quick decision by the Bundestag to extend the life of German nuclear power plants. The Union is expressly ready to quickly achieve the pertinent changes in the law, he said. “The operation of the nuclear power plant is technically, personally and legally possible.” Now it has to be decided whether this is also politically possible.

Merz stressed that the Union was also ready to meet at short notice for a special session of the Bundestag for a quick decision. Otherwise, there will only be another session of the Bundestag in about five weeks. “Now we could make decisions right now” that would make continued operation possible beyond the 2023/2024 turn of the year. “I call on the federal government to exhaust all possibilities.”

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From Merz’s point of view, the necessary changes in the law for a longer useful life of nuclear power plants must be approved by the Bundestag in August. Given the time it takes to order new fuel rods, which can take up to 15 months, it’s clear why making decisions in August is so important, he said. “If we are in September it becomes critical, if we are in Christmas it is impossible”.

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We don’t want to go back to old nuclear power, but given the current situation “at our own risk” it is important not to exacerbate the problems, Merz said.

CSU boss Markus Söder said there was no time for tactics. Measures must be taken: “Germany is in an energy emergency.” Therefore, in winter you have to expect not only gas shortages, but also electricity. According to Söder, the batteries should not only continue to function for three months in winter, but at least until 2024. That also means that new fuel rods have to be purchased. CDU leader Merz said this would also be possible without Russia’s involvement and referred to the possibility of acquiring nuclear fuel from Western allies.

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The Bavarian prime minister also said that Germany would benefit from an extension of Isar 2’s duration as much as Bavaria. About 12 percent of the electricity would remain in Bavaria, the rest would be delivered throughout Germany. Therefore, it is a “good and reasonable solution” to continue operating the remaining three German nuclear reactors.

Söder: They were bombarded with “fake news” about the possibility of nuclear power plants continuing to operate

Söder also said that the federal government had confronted the public with “untruths” about the feasibility of continuing to operate the nuclear power plant in recent months. Among other things, he mentioned statements that the nuclear power plant was missing personnel or that the population was against continuing the operation, although “there was really only a dispute within one party”, namely the Greens. Asked by a journalist, Söder said: “We were bombarded with fake news.”

Merz and Söder: The only thing missing for the continued operation of nuclear power plants is the political will of the federal government, and nothing else

Merz and Söder: The only thing missing for the continued operation of nuclear power plants is the political will of the federal government, and nothing else

Source: Getty Images/Lennart Preiss

Former Federal Environment Minister Jürgen Trittin (Greens) described the visit as a spectacle. “Propaganda is being made, that has nothing to do with the matter,” he told German Editorial Network (RND).

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Trittin added: “If TÜV Süd determined that Isar 2 is insured against the Merz small plane crash, then I would not contradict it. But that no longer applies to large commercial aircraft, as it does to all nuclear power plants.” .

In any case, Isar 2 has not had a security check for three years. If TÜV Süd recently concluded that Isar 2 could continue to operate without any problems, then that was “sloppy among friends”, Trittin said. A lawyer close to Greenpeace had previously accused the TÜV of having certified the desired result for the state of Bavaria.

The operating license for the Isar 2 nuclear reactor is due to expire at the end of the year, as are the other two remaining reactors, Emsland in Lower Saxony and Neckarwestheim 2 in Baden-Württemberg. The federal government has not yet made a final decision for or against extending the life of nuclear reactors.

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Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz believes that a longer lifespan for nuclear power plants is possible. The last three nuclear power plants in Germany are only relevant for the production of electricity and only for a small part of it. “But it can still make sense, because the level of expansion in terms of renewable energy is very different in different countries in Germany,” the SPD politician said Wednesday in Mülheim an der Ruhr. He also referred to the “very, very strict” stress test on the security of electricity supply in Germany that is still ongoing. Conclusions will be drawn from this.

The FDP had recently ruled in favor of an extension. Even the Greens made statements that at least a so-called stretching operation, that is, continued use with the current fuel rods until next summer, could be justified under certain circumstances.

“It will not be a simple extension of deadlines”

“There will not be a simple extension of the deadlines,” the leader of the Greens in the Bundestag, Britta Haßelmann, told the “Neue Westfälische” newspaper (Thursday). The phasing out of nuclear power is “clearly regulated by law”: any changes to the Atomic Energy Law would have to be decided in the Bundestag.

“We will not review the exit from nuclear power,” SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken told the German editorial network (RND/Thursday). Nuclear power is very expensive and involves a high level of risk, and to this day it is unclear how and where nuclear waste should be disposed of safely.

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In 2011, the then federal government of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) decided to phase out nuclear power for Germany after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan. In the Union, the phase-out of nuclear power was highly controversial for many years before the debate resurfaced recently.

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