March 16, 2011
Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger urged during a hastily called meeting of ministers yesterday (15March) to introduce safety “stress tests” at nuclear power plans in Europe. He commended the present safety standards in EU countries, but as the same time told German media that we need to consider a “foreseeable future” without nuclear energy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Monday the closure of seven of its aging nuclear power plants, in a move seen to be a desperate attempt to avoid a regional election disaster.
The move astonished Germans, as it suspended an unpopular coalition decision taken last autumn, under which the life of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants would be extended by years.
Following the tide, Oettinger, who is a close Merkel ally, told the German media that Europe needed to consider whether it could live without nuclear energy one day.
“We must also raise the question of if we in Europe, in the foreseeable future, can secure our energy needs without nuclear energy,” he told broadcaster ARD.
Oettinger also appears to have found an easy target: the Bulgarian nuclear power plant Belene, at the Danube river. Although the construction is ongoing and a lot of money has been invested on the site (see picture), he says that the project needs to be reassessed and that there were problems regarding the projects financing.
It would not be the first time that Bulgaria, the poorest EU country, is under pressure to abandon nuclear projects. Bulgaria has closed four nuclear reactors at its Kozlodui as part of its EU accession package.Georgi Gotev