By John LaForge
Germany has switched off the last of its nuclear power reactors for good.
The world’s press made much of “Europe’s largest economy” finally going nuclear-free, a renunciation of poison power that Germany has been planning for since 2011.
The country will replace the puny 6% of electricity provided by its last three plutonium/MOX-fueled behemoths with solar and wind generators, geothermal, conservation, and other renewables that already provide 46.9% of the country’s electricity.
“The position of the German government is clear: nuclear power is not green. Nor is it sustainable,” Steffi Lemke, Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment and Consumer Protection and a Green Party member, told CNN. Minister Lemke told France’s Le Monde, “The risks of nuclear power are ultimately unmanageable,” after making an April visit to Japan’s Fukushima disaster zone.
Earlier, the 1986 reactor catastrophe at Chernobyl in Ukraine created a plume of radioactive fallout that doused large parts of Germany, and threw nuclear power in the doghouse for millions.
The March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that smashed and flooded the Fukushima-Daiichi complex in Japan resulted in three simultaneous reactor meltdowns and the largest radiation release to the environment — still ongoing — in history. For most in Germany, Fukushima was confirmation “that assurances that a nuclear accident of a large scale can’t happen are not credible,” Miranda Schreurs, professor of environment and climate policy at the Technical University of Munich, told CNN.
Three days after the earthquake and tsunami, Germany’s then-Chancellor Angela Merkel called Fukushima an “inconceivable catastrophe for Japan” and a “turning point” which it was, at least for Germany.
Plenty of other European countries are rejecting nuclear, CNN reported recently. Denmark passed a resolution in the 1980s not to build new reactors. Switzerland voted in 2017 to phase out nuclear. Italy closed its last reactors in 1990, and Austria’s one reactor site has never operated. Lucky for them.
“Germany’s phase-out of nuclear power is a historic event and an overdue step in energy terms,” Simone Peter, president of the German Renewable Energy Federation, told CNN. “It is high time that we leave the nuclear age behind and consistently organize the renewable age.”