The President of the Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management, Wolfram König, rejects extended service lives for nuclear power plants in Germany.

“Such an assessment would not only have to take into account the safety of the nuclear power plants, but also the disposal of the radioactive waste,” writes König in an article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”.

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“In both cases, the costs to society as a whole for continued operation of the systems would be considerable,” König pointed out. “The societal consensus that has been achieved with great difficulty would also be fundamentally called into question.”

Because of the current energy crisis as a result of the Ukraine war, a debate has broken out about letting at least the three nuclear power plants still on the grid run beyond the turn of the year. They should actually go offline at the end of 2022.

Koenig also has serious doubts about the timetable for the search for a site for a nuclear waste repository in Germany. According to the law, the decision for a repository site should be made by 2031, so that storage can begin from 2050.

“My Federal Office has repeatedly reminded the company commissioned with the site search about the progress in the process so that the legally stipulated timetable is adhered to. Another 20 years are to be expected before the repository is ready for operation,” writes König. “Today I have to state that I no longer consider the target of 2031 to be realistic”

Lower Saxony’s Economics Minister Bernd Althusmann is calling for the three German nuclear power plants still connected to the grid to be allowed to run longer. In principle, the nuclear phase-out should not be called into question, said the CDU’s top candidate for the state elections on October 9th.

In view of the looming gas and electricity shortages, however, people expected pragmatic solutions to get through the winter safely. “In this respect, one should not rule out any option that is obvious,” said Althusmann.

A so-called stretching operation – in which electricity is produced longer with the previous fuel elements – is absolutely necessary. Althusmann also called for fuel elements to be ordered from abroad and put back as a precaution in order to prevent an energy gap if the worst came to the worst.

The head of the CSU state group, Alexander Dobrindt, also believes it is possible for nuclear power plants in Germany to run for several years. In the “Welt am Sonntag” the CSU politician called for a decision on “reasonable energy”.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) has also not ruled out short-term continued operation of the Bavarian nuclear power plant Isar 2. If the ongoing stress test on energy security shows “that Bavaria could actually have a serious electricity or grid problem, then we will evaluate this situation and the options that will then exist,” she told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”.

Lemke also pointed out that the nuclear power plant could run longer in stretched operation than initially stated. In the current, heated debate, she advises sobriety and ultimately making decisions based on facts.

The minister added: “You cannot judge a high-risk technology based on daily surveys.” Germany had good reasons to opt out of nuclear power. Safety must always have the highest priority.

In view of the energy shortages caused by the Russian war against Ukraine, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder also advocated examining the use of domestic gas resources using the fracking method. “According to experts, there are large natural gas fields, especially in Lower Saxony,” said the CSU boss of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.

A few days ago, Althusmann expressed his disapproval and referred to the current ban on fracking. Before entering this not uncontroversial technology, all existing options should first be exhausted, such as the extraction of domestic, conventionally recoverable gas deposits and the fastest possible development of an LNG import infrastructure, the CDU politician told the German Press Agency.