2010 was the year of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany



By contratom, (translated by Diet Simon)

2010 was the year of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany. Not since the catastrophic Chernobyl meltdown 25 years ago were there as many people on German streets protesting against nuclear power production as in 2010. More than 360,000 objected to the government’s extending the operating lives of atomic power stations. But they went ahead regardless against the will of a majority of the population. Clapped out reactors will be allowed to run for years more, while the nuclear waste mountain grows constantly with no solution in sight.


So have we lost? No. Because since the brutal suppression of dissent against a new underground railway station in Stuttgart, and another transport of waste to Gorleben for storage there’s another question in the air: democracy. For how long can a government legitimise itself while consciously acting against its own people? For how long can state powers hold the line when police are pushed on to the defensive by mass protests? And finally even call into question their deployment in the service of those governing?

In Gorleben the limits were reached. And that can’t go well for long. The government cannot run this escalation course for much longer and is looking for ways out. Environment minister Röttgen travels to Gorleben and speaks of the “start of a dialogue”.

Extensions of nuclear running times are justified with the expansion of renewable energies – although they are contradictory. The government is discussing deploying the military inside the country. Will tanks soon be rolling against peaceful squat blockades?

And on the government benches: Despite high-sounding announcements before the election, the Conservatives and Liberals in government could not agree on an energy concept for months. Time and again the atomic power stations and inadequate safety were the focus of debate. There were secret negotiations with the energy bosses and a presumed concept for a “reliable, economical and environment-compatible energy supply”.  Chancellor Merkel put her foot down to end the debate in her own ranks. The operating times of the German nuclear power stations were extended in favour of the nuclear lobby. Not even federal president Wulff is standing in the way any more. But there can be no talk of “frictionless” passage of the law to extend the times: profit for a few, while the majority protest.


•Now the opposition parties are making waves, announcing litigation against the law and promising, if they win government in the state of Baden-Württenberg, immediate cessation of nuclear power production.


Hot air? We wait with bated breath. But one thing is certain: In 2011 there will be state elections in Hamburg (20 February), Saxony-Anhalt (20 March), Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate (both 27 March) and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (probably 4 September). The Conservatives and Liberals in power will be taught their first lesson for their merciless atomic escalation course.  Especially in Baden-Württemberg, which has just taken possession of the power company and nuclear station operator EnBW in a deal struck by state premier Mappus, abandonment of nuclear power is the issue. The station Neckarwestheim-1 is one of the oldest in Germany and under the law enacted by the previous federal government of Social Democrats and Greens would have been shut down permanently. Only trickery, deals with the government and now the extension have been able to save the station.


•In March there will be an action and human chain at the Neckarwestheim station. We hold the Social Democrats and Greens to their promise to finally switch off. Our message to the new state government: Out with the old stations!


More nuclear waste containers are to be stored in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania in the spring. People are rebelling, with even their own state government opposing the plans of the federal government. It was promised when the interim storage was built at Rubenow near Greifswald-Lubmin that it would take in only the scrap from the former East German power stations in Greifswald and Rheinsberg. But now one of the biggest depots for atomic waste from everywhere is coming into being there. And currently valid licences are irrelevant, with plans projected to 2080 instead of the original 2039.


•Probably in February the next CASTOR train will roll from Karlsruhe to Lubmin. Thousands will again put themselves in its way to protest against the unsolved nuclear waste keeping. This is not only about the interim storage in Lubmin, because ultimately Gorleben is the place where the waste is to end up. And they won’t get their way with that!


But our protests are not only focused on the transportation of nuclear waste. For a long time transportation of fuel, such as runs to or from the uranium enrichment plant at Gronau, for example, has also been targeted by actions.  


• At the Grohnde nuclear power station on 15 January there will be a squat outside the gate protesting the delivery of MOX fuel rods in the first quarter of 2011.


It remains to be seen whether the Krümmel power station will go back on the grid early this year as announced. Recently its new female CEO failed to pass a test, now new personnel are needed. Whether co-operator E.ON takes over the station and whether that has a bearing on starting it up again is still unclear. But resistance is already stirring in Hamburg: "Cheerio Vattenfall" and "Ciao E.ON". We’re also certifying the death of the old power station in Brunsbüttel: after being stopped for more than three years – no other reactor has ever been switched off that long – a new operating licence has to be issued, which this station must never be allowed to get!

An especially sad anniversary will be marked in April. 25 years ago, on 26.04.1986 rector block 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power station in Ukraine exploded after an experiment. Throughout Europe radiation made tens of thousands of people ill or killed them. Large areas remain seriously contaminated.


•"German nukes aren’t safe, either – the only sure thing is risk!” On 25 April we will demonstrate outside at least 16 nuclear locations in Germany. Only a shut down nuke reduces the biggest possible danger of the worst case scenario.

In Ahaus, North-Rhine Westphalia, location of the third “central interim repository” beside Gorleben and Lubmin, ever more nuclear waste is expected. Although safety concerns delayed (but did not cancel) a consignment to Russia, in the second half of the year 152 CASTOR caskets of highly radioactive waste from the Jülich research centre are expected. Not for disposal, but to clear out a hall, the caskets are to be moved. Protests will make it an expensive removal.

And in Gorleben? Environment minister Röttgen paid a visit and together with the locals wants to turn the pit dug in the salt deposit into a nuclear waste repository. That runs into 30 years of resistance. Not just the latest finds of gas in the salt, which in November underlined the demand for an immediate stop to work, keep making Gorleben’s unsuitability plain. No dialogue will change that.


•The protest in the Wendland, as the Gorleben region is called, will most likely focus again in November, when the last 11 caskets with radioactive waste are delivered from the recycling plant in La Hague in France.


And the “licensed final repository” Schacht Konrad? That’s getting more expensive all the time. Now the depot for low and medium active waste is not to be ready before 2019. This assumed "glimmer of light in the disposal question”, that all nuclear companies are already betting on, is five years behind schedule. Planning has already been costed at 1.6 billion euros instead of the original 900. No end in sight.


No solution is in sight for the Asse-2 disaster that irresponsible politicians and nuclear industrialists have caused. It was a cheap ‘solution’ for the nuclear waste – now more and more radioactive brine is localised in the salt deposit. Moving ever further into the distance are the plans to completely empty the mine. To avoid workers being exposed to too much radiation, the plan to haul out the leaking drums is to be dropped. At the cost of coming generations, fear nuclear opponents, because their drinking water will be contaminated.


And in Morsleben? The “forgotten location” in the former East Germany, where after reunification large amounts of west German nuclear waste were stored, has been declared “safe” by the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. But a recent study found that leukaemia cases are clustering around the final repositories of Morsleben and Asse. Twice as many people there as the national average have the illness. All safe?


•All the time and everywhere it is becoming clear that nuclear energy is up a blind alley.


•More and more people are understanding that and will protest together. Nuclear energy will be ended on the streets!


What can we do?


More people have to be won to changing over to a green electricity provider. We must do the nuclear stop ourselves. Almost 900,000 people already buy their power from Greenpeace Energy, the power rebels in Schönau, Naturstrom or Lichtblick.


But the big banks also do business with nuclear technology or waste. For our money there are better solutions than Deutsche Bank or Commerzbank. Alternatives are GLS Bank, Triodos Bank, Umwelt- und Ethikbank. These four banks explicitly reject nuclear funding.

The contratom  team wishes for nuclear power-free 2011 with as few accidents as possible and many shutdowns. May the last nuclear power proponents finally see sense!

•Ending nuke power is hand work!

•For the immediate closure of all nuclear installations!