Monday, March 10, 2014
The Associated Press
(Continued from page 2)
The disposal of spent nuclear fuel is also a costly problem, but it has no set price tag in Germany because the government has failed to find a sustainable solution.
Many decades-old reactors are highly profitable as their initial cost has been written off, but they now face higher costs as regulators push for safety upgrades in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. One of the most pressing — and costly — requirements is likely to be a mandatory upgrade to reinforce all nuclear power plants' outer shell to withstand a crash of a commercial airliner.
Utility EnBW pulled the plug for good on one reactor temporarily shut down by the government because the new requirements made operating it "no longer economically viable."
But even if Germany abandons nuclear energy, some of Europe's 143 nuclear reactors will still sit right on its borders.
Since France and other nations are firmly committed to nuclear power, shutting down all reactors across Europe won't happen, but Merkel is now pushing for common safety standards. The topic will be discussed at the European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
Merkel said the 27-nation bloc, which has standardized "the size of apples or the shape of bananas," needs joint standards for nuclear power plants.
"Everybody in Europe would be equally affected by an accident at a nuclear power plant in Europe," Merkel said.