Trittin drops nuclear reprocessing ban plan

Revised draft atomic law omits reference to ban, ministry insists phase-out not in question

German environment minister Jürgen Trittin has angered environmentalists and fellow Green Party members by omitting any reference to a ban on German nuclear fuel reprocessing in a new draft of his proposal to revise Germany's atomic law. One member of the party told the Süddeutsche Zeitung today that there had been no "internal clarification" of the omission from a new draft circulated yesterday. The law is intended to provide for an "orderly and safe" nuclear phase-out, an end to new power station approvals and a cut in transports of nuclear materials by building extra waste storage capacity close to existing plants. However, the environment ministry said today that there had been "no change of thinking" on its part and that the agreement reached at last month's "consensus talks" with the nuclear industry was unaffected. At the talks Mr Trittin's original plan to end reprocessing from January 2000 was shelved after pressure was put on chancellor Gerhard Schröder by French and UK reprocessing companies, while German plant operators accepted the principle of an eventual ban on reprocessing (ENDS Daily 26 January). Reprocessing is now to be phased out on a plant-by-plant basis as storage capacity is developed, with firmer dates to be discussed at the next round of consensus talks on 9 March. However, the ministry said today that it expects reprocessing to end by 2004, well before the expiry of contracts with reprocessors BNFL and Cogema.

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