Germany must begin to shut down its nuclear reactors within the next four years, environment minister Jürgen Trittin said this week. In an interview with the German Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, Mr Trittin stressed his determination to carry out the nuclear phase-out agreed by the new government "as soon as possible" (ENDS Daily 16 October). In particular, he promised a speedy amendment to the existing nuclear law to increase liability payments and bring in a stricter safety regime for plants. He also emphasised his intention to re-think national nuclear waste strategy to stop all transports of irradiated fuel elements across Germany, and also to reprocessing plants in France and the UK. The package of measures would send a clear signal that nuclear power was not a good future bet for Germany, Mr Trittin said. The previous government's plans for a final storage site in Gorleben would have to be scrapped as the chosen area did not have the right geological conditions, he added. Many political commentators feel that his enthusiasm for a phase-out is not shared by the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the stronger coalition partner. However, the new government's phase-out plans have provoked angry reactions from national and European nuclear bodies, as well as reprocessors at La Hague and Sellafield.
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