German nuclear providers to bear phase-out costs

Anti-nuclear sentiment is strong in Germany; it now seems that the taxpayer will not have to pay to get rid of it. [Neil H/Flickr]

The decommissioning costs of German nuclear power plants should be covered by the big energy companies, not the taxpayer, according to the government. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Yesterday (14 October), the German government approved a bill closing a legal loophole that may have allowed energy companies to exempt themselves from billions of euros worth of liability costs.

Additionally, a committee of experts was appointed that will examine the long-term financing of Germany’s nuclear phase-out, with a report due to be issued by the end of January.

The committee includes former environment minister Jürgen Trittin (Greens), ex-Minister President of Brandenburg Matthias Platzeck (SPD) and the former Mayor of Hamburg, Ole von Beust (CDU).

Sigmar Gabriel, the Vice Chancellor, revealed the results of his nuclear phase-out “stress tests” this weekend, which showed that the major energy companies will be able to cover the huge costs, due to the funds they have already put aside and the assets at their disposal.

>> Read: Auditors find that German nuclear providers can afford phase-out

The German government is therefore of the opinion that the taxpayer will not be called upon to foot the bill for decommissioning nuclear power stations or nuclear waste storage and disposal.

Gabriel: minimised risks for taxpayer

“Nuclear power providers are liable for the costs of nuclear waste disposal. This will remain the case in the future,” explained Gabriel. Under the slogan “Eltern haften für ihre Kinder” (Parents are responsible for their children), nuclear providers will remain liable for the costs even if they change their corporate structures; subsidiary companies will remain the responsibility of the parent company.

>> Read: Greenpeace, German utilities launch suit against UK nuclear plant

The newly established committee, comprising 19 members from various fields, will conduct a long-term review of how the nuclear phase-out will be financed, considering both the initial and follow-up costs.

  • 11 March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster
  • 6 August 2011 Eight nuclear reactors in Germany shut down
  • 2022 Proposed date of completion for full phase-out of nuclear power
  • Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy Press release - Minister Gabriel: "Companies are able to shoulder the costs of the nuclear phase-out" (10 October)

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