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German greens accused of lying over nuclear power safety to force plant shutdowns

Junior ministers covered up key technical reports, claims media outlet

Green party ministers in Germany have been accused of lying about safety issues at the country’s nuclear power plants to ensure they were shut down, even as the war in Ukraine threatened European energy supplies.

A German media outlet has accused Green ministers in the country’s coalition government of covering up key technical reports that suggested keeping the nuclear plants open would have lessened the country’s energy squeeze in 2022.

The magazine Cicero claimed that Patrick Graichen and Stefan Tidow, junior Green ministers at the economy and environment ministries respectively, re-wrote the documents to falsely suggest that retaining the power stations was “not tenable” on technical or security grounds.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz subsequently ordered the operation of the plants to be extended by three months to April 2023 but after that point they were shut down as previously planned.

Russia’s invasion two years ago sent gas, coal and electricity prices rocketing, triggering a major crisis as markets panicked about the prospect of Moscow shutting off gas supplies to the Continent altogether.

At the time, Germany’s decision to push ahead with the shutdown of its last nuclear power stations – leaving it even more reliant on gas and coal – was branded “madness” by critics.

However Green ministers, who were partners in the three-party coalition under Mr Scholz, continued to insist that keeping the nuclear plants open would be dangerous and irresponsible.

The Cicero report has triggered calls for transparency and potential investigations by members of the German Bundestag, as well as calls for the resignation of economy minister Robert Habeck, co-leader of the Greens.

In letters to Mr Habeck, top Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politicians warned the disclosures threatened to “fundamentally undermine trust in state institutions”.

Andreas Jung, energy policy spokesman for the CDU, added: “The minister [Mr Habeck] must fully explain what he knew about this and what role he himself played in it.”

The Germany economics ministry has insisted the review of nuclear plant extensions was “always open-ended and transparent”.

A statement added that decisions were based on “information available at the time”.

The closure policy dates back to 2011, when ex-chancellor Angela Merkel passed laws mandating the gradual shutdown of all nuclear plants by the end of 2022 following the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

At that time there were 17 plants across the country. By 2022 only three remained: Isar II, Neckarwestheim II and Emsland.

These still contributed about 6pc of Germany’s electricity, with a total capacity of around 4.3 gigawatts.

Mr Habeck at one point claimed that keeping the last plants open would have made little difference because it would have reduced gas demand by only 2pc.
Despite the closures experts believe at least five mothballed German nuclear power plants could still be brought back online, according to Cicero.

Source: The Telegraph