The German government last week stopped all shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel following reports of radioactive contamination on rail containers and wagons well in excess of regulatory limits. The first order was made by environment minister Angela Merkel on Wednesday, applying to shipments heading for reprocessing at Sellafield in the UK or La Hague in France. Ms Merkel immediately came under political pressure to widen the ban to include all movements of irradiated fuel in Germany, and did so on Thursday. The move failed to satisfy the opposition SPD party, which has now questioned whether the minister really first heard of the problem from the French government on 24 April as she has claimed, or up to eight years earlier, when it appears that nuclear industry officials in both Germany and France learned of it. Opposition parties have demanded an emergency parliamentary debate on the issue and say that Ms Merkel should resign if it turns out she was aware of the contamination before 24 April.
German environment ministry, tel: +49 228 3050
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