President of the DAtF: Germany’s Nuclear Energy Industry Deserves Respect

Berlin, 14.05.2013

In his speech on the opening of the 44th Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology on 14 May in Berlin, the President of the DAtF Dr. Ralf Güldner stressed in his opening speech that “it is the employees of the companies, the researchers, the independent experts and the supervisory officers who have ensured a culture of maximum nuclear safety for decades and who live by this philosophy on a daily basis. Our services also deserve the respect of society. We are entitled to demand it, regardless of the political decisions made with regard to the energy mix in Germany.” A large majority of the German population is also in favour of retaining the associated skills and the nuclear research that will be required in the future. At the beginning of May, the opinion research institute Forsa carried out a representative opinion poll on behalf of the DAtF. According to the poll, 89 percent of German citizens are in favour of nuclear research being continued, for example for the safety of nuclear power plants or for the final disposal of radioactive waste; among the supporters of the Alliance 90/The Greens the proportion is as high as 95 percent. Given these facts, it is even less understandable that investigation of the Gorleben salt dome is not being continued and that the intention is not to allow any scientific studies on final disposal in rock salt to be conducted in the exploration mine in future. For among supporters of research, 85 percent specifically support the scientific field of final disposal, 79 percent that of nuclear applications in medicine, chemistry, material development, etc. and 75 percent that of the conversion and utilization of radioactive waste. 26 percent of supporters consider the development of new reactor designs to be important. The poll results are easy to understand if one looks at the view held by German citizens regarding the role model effect of the German exit from nuclear energy. According to the Forsa poll, almost two out of three Germans (65 percent) do not believe that other nuclear energy countries will follow the German exit example. Among the supporters of the SPD, 57 percent doubt Germany's role model effect and 51 percent of the Alliance 90/The Greens doubt it. The majority of German citizens (55 percent) believe that the German government should not pressure these countries into a phase-out and that every country should decide for itself how it generates its electricity.   In his opening speech at the Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology, the president of the DAtF also emphasized two further points which are highly significant for the industry overall but which are particularly important for the operators of Germany's nuclear power plants: their plants secure one sixth of Germany’s power supply and contributed to it with an average availability of 90 percent in 2012. However, due to current prices in the electricity market and the nuclear fuel tax, which was set at a time when electricity tariffs were considerably higher, the NPPs are now at the limit of their commercial viability. The other aspect is the public debate surrounding the destinations of future CASTOR transports carrying German waste from reprocessing in Great Britain and France. Güldner emphasized that, in addition to the many unresolved judicial issues, there was no objective need for the expenditure and the costs associated with this and that no improvement in safety would emerge in the case of either transport or interim storage. The Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology takes into account the increased importance of international markets and has been able to secure an especially large number of top speakers from abroad. The conference which runs until 16. May 2013 reports more than 1,000 attendees and just under 30 exhibitors from industry, the service sector and research. The attendees, exhibitors and speakers come from a total of 16 different countries. The Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology is one of the world’s largest and most important trade fairs for nuclear engineering and is organized jointly by the DAtF and the German Nuclear Society (KTG).

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