Austria disappointed by Germany's nuclear plans
Austria, which has outlawed nuclear energy, expressed disappointment Tuesday at the decision by neighbouring Germany to postpone by more than a decade its planned phase-out of nuclear power.
"There's only one thing that is enduring about nuclear energy and that is the risk," Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said in an official reaction to the decision by the German cabinet to extend the lifetime of Gernany's nuclear reactors by up to 14 years.
Environment minister Nikolaus Berlakovich described Berlin's decision as a "setback", adding that Germany "would have been an important partner for Austria."
Austria passed a law in 1978 prohibiting the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation.
It has repeatedly expressed concern about the safety of a number of nuclear power plants in neighbouring countries, such as Germany, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Berlakovich said his overriding concern was "maximum safety" and Austria would ask Germany to explain what impact its decision might have for its neighbour at a bilateral meeting next month.
Germany, too, is a country with strong public misgivings about the safety of nuclear power and the German government in 2000 under ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder passed legislation to switch off the last of its 17 reactors by around 2020.
But the current centre-right administration under Angela Merkel wants to extend the lifetime of the reactors by more than a decade so that nuclear power will remain part of Germany's energy mix until around 2035.
The Austrian government said the German Isar 1 power plant in Bavaria not far from the Austrian border should be shut down "if all the safety shortcomings are not rectified sufficiently."
The environmental group Greenpeace urged chancellor Faymann to summon the German ambassador to explain Berlin's decision.
"The junk reactor Isar-1 is an immense risk," Greenpeace said in a statement.
© 2010 AFP