Thu, Jun 14, 2012 - Page 10 News List

German utilities sue government for nuclear exit

AFP, FRANKFURT, GERMANY, and SINGAPORE

German power suppliers are suing the government for 15 billion euros (US$19 billion) in damages over the decision to abandon nuclear power, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported yesterday.

The country’s biggest power utility E.ON, alone, wants at least 8.0 billion euros, the newspaper said, without revealing its sources.

In the wake of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, Berlin decided to phase out nuclear power, forcing energy suppliers to shut down their profitable large-scale power plants, while it also levied a tax on the reactors’ fuel for their remaining lifespan.

Both E.ON and its next biggest rival RWE have already filed complaints with the constitutional court, arguing that the nuclear exit decision has harmed their proprietary rights as they had to shut down reactors early.

E.ON said the complaint was not about the pull-out from nuclear energy per se, which is largely supported in Germany, but about the lack of compensation for the companies affected by the energy policy U-turn.

Both companies have seen profits fall sharply owing to the shutdown of their nuclear power plants.

Meanwhile, the UN atomic watchdog said yesterday “good progress” was being made in enhancing global nuclear safety, almost a year after implementing an action plan in the wake of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster.

The program implemented by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in September last year involves fresh assessments of the world’s 440 nuclear plants and emergency measures, as well as more voluntary “peer review” visits by foreign experts.

“Good progress continues to be made ... but the success of this action plan in strengthening nuclear safety is dependent upon its implementation through full cooperation and participation of member states,” Denis Flory, the IAEA’s deputy director general for nuclear safety and security, said in a keynote speech at a nuclear safety seminar held in Singapore.

Flory cautioned countries embarking on new nuclear projects to exercise “the highest level of transparency and openness in communication” to allay public concerns over safety issues.

“Nuclear energy remains a viable option for many countries as they consider their future energy mix, but we must not forget that public confidence in the safety of nuclear power was badly damaged by the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident,” he said.

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