Merkel reaffirms support for atomic energy despite nuclear incident


German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday reiterated her backing for the use of civilian atomic energy despite mounting public criticism over the handling of a recent fire at a north German nuclear power station.

Addressing a news conference in Berlin, Merkel made clear that she would still vouch for the peaceful use of nuclear energy in her country. "Compared to other international nuclear power station operators, Germany has high standards and demands," the German leader said. However they only make sense when the safety measures do function, she added.

Merkel lashed out at the "unacceptable" information policy of energy giant Vattenfall Europe in the wake of gradual disclosures since June 28, when electrical defects shut down the company's reactors at Kruemmel and Brunsbuettel near Hamburg. According to an internal Vattenfall report, employees at Kruemmel were in a state of crisis when a fire knocked out a transformer. Meanwhile the head of Vattenfall Europe Klaus Rauscher resigned on Monday following the latest nuclear scandal.

The resignation came two days after the Swedish-owned utility company fired the head of its German nuclear power division, Bruno Thomauske. A special commission comprised of scientists and industry experts has been formed by Vattenfall to look into the circumstances of the nuclear incident. Vattenfall Europe is also contemplating to sell off its operating license of the north German nuclear plant in Kruemmel, the weekly Der Spiegel news magazine reported earlier this week.

The Swedish company is also considering rendering the operating license of another nuclear power plant in Brunsbuettel. Talks are underway with utility rival E.ON for transferring the operating license on its name. E.ON holds already a 50% and 30% share in the Kruemmel and Brunsbuettel nuclear power stations which in the past have been the scene of a number of incidents and mishaps. Duesseldorf-based E.ON is presently awaiting the full results of the official investigation of the Kruemmel fire before making a definite decision on the bid. (

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