Nuclear phase-out talks to start soon

The German government has said that it expects the talks over the proposed shut-down of the country`s nuclear power plants to begin early next year. The economics minister is due to send out invitations to the utilities next month.

The new Green-Social Democrat coalition has set a one year deadline for the successful completion of the talks, and appears confident that it will be able to reach agreement with the nuclear industry. German utilities have, however, reiterated their opposition to the plans.

Viag AG has stated that it sees no reason to close down power plants with a 40-year life after only 20 years. The utility owns majority stakes in three reactors and minority stakes in two others.

Other utilities are likely to demand large monetary sums from the government to compensate for withdrawal from nuclear power. Hans-Dieter Harig, chairman of PreussenElektra, said that in addition to lost profits from closed nuclear plants, they would also have to be compensated for spending on major changes to radioactive disposal.

French President Jacques Chirac has stated that the government has no interest in following Germany`s lead in phasing out nuclear power following a revived campaign against nuclear energy by the Greens.