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Germany to shut down 7 reactors after Japan’s crisis

While Putin orders review of Russian nuclear sector

Published:

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany will take seven of its 17 reactors offline for three months while the country reconsidered plans to extend the life of its nuclear power plants.

Merkel said Tuesday that Germany will temporarily shut down reactors that went into operation before the end of 1980, affecting seven reactors. The decision came amid fears sparked by the crisis under way at Japan's tsunami-stricken nuclear power plant.

Merkel spoke after meeting with the governors of states that have nuclear power plants.

Previous decision

A previous government decided a decade ago to shut all 17 German nuclear plants by 2021, but Merkel's administration last year moved to extend their lives by an average 12 years. That decision was suspended for three months on Monday

Merkel told a news conference that the federal and provincial state governments would agree details of a nuclear policy moratorium on March 22.

Japan's government has said radiation levels near the Fukushima nuclear plant have reached levels harmful to human health, with four reactors having overheated and sparked explosions after Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

Merkel's announcement means that some of the country's oldest reactors, in operation since the mid-1970s, were set to be turned off.

The Neckarwestheim 1 reactor near Stuttgart in southwest Germany would already have been taken out of service if Merkel had not defied public opinion and extended last year operating times.

Others that could be shut down imminently include Biblis A south of Frankfurt and Isar I in Bavaria.

On Monday large numbers of people worried about nuclear safety -- more than 100,000 according to organizers -- took to the streets around the country.

A survey by public broadcaster ARD published on Tuesday had 53 percent of respondents saying all reactors should be taken out of service as soon as possible.

Seventy percent thought that an accident similar to that in Japan could happen in Germany, and 80 percent want Merkel to reverse the government's extension of operating times, the poll of 909 voters showed.

On Tuesday Merkel had talks in Berlin with premiers of the German states where there are nuclear plants, as well as the economy and environment ministers. They were due to address reporters at 11:30 am (1030 GMT).

Russia

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered Russia to carry out a review of the future of its atomic energy sector after the Japanese earthquake.

"I request that the energy ministry, nuclear agency and environment ministry carry out an analysis of the current condition of the atomic sector and an analysis of the plans for future development," he told an official meeting.

Putin ordered that "within one month the results of the investigation (are delivered) to the government."

He said that Russia did not have atomic power stations built on earthquake fautlines and had no plans to build them there. "We need to be prepared to act in any eventuality," he added.

Putin's remarks are the first time the Russian leadership has questioned the future of nuclear energy in Russia after the Japanese earthquake, which damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Russia is one of the world's most significant producers of nuclear energy and it also builds nuclear power stations abroad.

I request that the energy ministry, nuclear agency and environment ministry carry out an analysis of the current condition of the atomic sector and an analysis of the plans for future development

Vladimir Putin, Russia\'s PM