German environment minister Jürgen Trittin has upped the stakes over the current ban on spent nuclear fuel transports within Germany and to reprocessing plants abroad. In a statement released yesterday, Mr Trittin said he hoped no transports would take place whilst the government and the electricity companies were involved in negotiations on the government's aim to phase-out the use of nuclear power. The ban was imposed last year after surface radioactive contamination was found on transport containers bound for reprocessing in La Hague, France (ENDS Daily 25 May 1998). It was intended to continue until a programme of actions defined by the previous government had been completed (ENDS Daily 26 May 1998). Trittin has now stated that a company would be "going against the spirit of the talks," if it tried to re-start shipments before the end of phase-out negotiations, which are scheduled to last until the end of the year. In particular, he pointed out that government policy on transporting spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing in France and the UK was still being debated (ENDS Daily 23 February). According to the environment ministry, nuclear power plants will not have any need to transport spent fuel within Germany this year. In a related development, Greenpeace Switzerland has claimed that further surface radioactive contamination has been found on Swiss containers arriving at La Hague. The group is calling for the Swiss transport ban to be re-imposed, as well as a full-scale investigation in France.
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