March 11 commemorates the catastrophic consequences and the huge number of victims claimed by the earthquake and tsunami in the northeast of Japan a year ago but it also serves as a reminder of the major nuclear accidents which followed in Fukushima Daiichi. It quickly became clear in the evaluation which followed the events that they would have been preventable if the operators and supervisory authorities had taken appropriate precautions. In Germany, March 11 2011 marks the starting point for a radical political re-evaluation of a technology that for decades has made a significant contribution to a safe, competitive and climate-friendly energy mix for Germany as a business and job location.
The safety checks carried out by the Reactor Safety Commission in spring 2011 and the extensive test reports submitted in the course of EU stress tests confirmed a high level of robustness in respect of earthquakes, floods and torrential rain for all 17 German nuclear power plants which were operating on 11 March last year. The German plants also have additional safety equipment for controlling a serious incident. It was and is possible to virtually rule out an accident course such as that in Fukushima for German nuclear power plants. Their safety and the safety culture of their operators continue as ever to set international standards.
Dr. Ralf Güldner, President of the German Atomic Forum, says, "Safety is our top priority; this applies both to the operation of our nuclear power plants and also to the later period of decommissioning and dismantling. Our plants will remain an important part of the German energy mix and a stabilizing factor for our grids and the security of supply until they are finally shut down." This is impressively reflected in the current world ranking list for electricity production by nuclear power plants in 2011. Of the nine remaining German plants, four are among the world´s top ten and the Isar 2 nuclear power plant occupies first place. Through their work and commitment, the nuclear power plant operators, manufacturers, service providers and scientific establishments that work in nuclear technology in Germany take it upon themselves to further develop the safety and efficiency of nuclear energy at what is acknowledged as the highest international level.