Friday, August 10, 2007

GERMANS ATTEMPT TO BLOCK NUCLEAR POWER PLANT SHIPMENT


Germany currently is locked in a debate over the future of nuclear power in that country.

Some Germans though aren't interested in mere verbal pugilistics. A couple dozen of them were arrested yesterday trying to block the shipment of a transformer to a troubled nuclear plant in north Germany.

While in past years Germany began plans to shut down and phase out nuclear power. Things changed in the recent past (and then are maybe changing again).

Anyway, there are more than hints that many leading political figures in Germany want to expand not cut back on nuclear power. Nuclear power had received a tremendous boost since climate change had made Germans suddenly fearful about the future. Regional politicians like Baden-Wuerttemberg's state premier Guenther Oettinger, Roland Koch of Hesse and Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria, as well as CDU General Secretary Ronald Pofalla, have become increasingly vocal proponents of extending the shelf life of nuclear power plants.

Things seem to be rolling their way until thick clouds of smoke rolled over the nuclear power plant in Kr├╝mmel last month (see photo). Although authorities said there was no danger a follow up report startled many Germans with the news of technical failures, human error and corporate incompetence associated with the plant. Even worse, the plant operator's claim that a fire in the transformer had no effect on the reactor itself proved to be a lie.

We shall see what we shall see.

The following story interestingly is from IRNA (Iran).

25 anti-nuclear activists arrested in Germany for blocking transformator shipment

At least 25 people were arrested in the north German port city of Geesthacht on Thursday for briefly blocking the shipment of a nuclear power transformator bound for an atomic power plant in the northern town of Kruemmel.

Anti-nuclear protesters tried to skive off a lock overnight to stop the shipment of the transformator which was due to replace an other fire-damaged transformator at the Kruemmel nuclear power plant Demonstrators holding up banners called for the shutdown of the old Krueemel nuclear reactor.

The new Kruemmel transformator was taken from another nuclear power plant in the northern city of Brunsbuettel which was also shut down because of safety problems in the wake of the June 28 fire incident at Krueemel.

It remains still unclear when Kruemmel and Brunsbuettel will be operational again.

Earlier this month, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel cited "considerable security deficits" in some of the country's 17 nuclear reactors following a series of recent incidents and technical mishaps.

Gabriel said his ministry's investigation discovered "considerable deficits in the security culture" of nuclear power plant operators.

The minister urged the creation of a "modernized security management system" at all German atomic plants within a year which would be able to cope in emergency situations.

Any longer delays to install such a security system are no longer tolerable, stressed Gabriel following a special parliamentary probe on the June 28 fire at the Kruemmel atomic power plant.

The official said while the exact cause of the Kruemmel incident was still unclear, he pointed to a combination of "technical problems and human error" as reason for the fire.

The German government has already asked the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to review all security and technical supervisory aspects of its nuclear program.

A team of 12 IAEA inspectors will assess the strength and weaknesses of the country's nuclear program over a two-week period.

Germany's nuclear power plants reported 944 incidents between the period of early 2000 and late 2006, press reports quoted statistics released recently by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

Meanwhile the number of registered breakdowns in German nuclear power plants since 1993 stand at 1,945.

The latest figures point to the high number of incidents in especially older nuclear power plants.

Topping the list are two nuclear power facilities, Brunsbuettel and Neckarwestheim both of which were built in 1976.

Brunsbuettel reported 437 and Neckarwestheim 1 registered 408 mishaps.

One-third of German atomic reactors are reportedly shut down because of either technical problems, repair work or system check-ups.

German nuclear power plants account still for 26 percent of the nation's energy consumption.

Faced with a gradual phase-out by 2021, Germany's nuclear reactors are still working at full strength, having raised their electricity production in 2006.

German atomic power plants generated 167.4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity last year, up from 163 billion kilowatt hours in 2005.

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