ATOMIC numbers

Nuclear Risks That Don’t Go Away

Nuclear power wrap up
Taking out the trash.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Properly storing radioactive rods and waste will take a long time – possibly into the next century – at a much greater cost than has been suggested.

  • Facts


    • Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Germany decided to abandon nuclear power by 2022.
    • Germany still has nine nuclear power plants in operation. Some estimate it could cost €50 billion to €70 billion to close them.
    • The last nuclear power plant in Germany is scheduled to shut down seven years from now.
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Silence hangs over Block 6 of the Greifswald nuclear power plant, about 250 kilometers north of Berlin. Pipes, pressure gauges, valves, regulators, pumps and steam generators – all meant to produce electricity one day – have never functioned and hardly been touched.

The pressurized water reactor, of Russian design in the former East Germany, was nearly complete when the Wall fell in 1989. Block 6 was never activated, unlike Blocks 1 to 4, and Block 5, which was in trial operation.

In 1990, the entire plant near the Baltic Sea beach town of Lubmin was shuttered.

Starting in 1995, the power plant was dismantled with difficult and detailed work – all except Block 6. Up to now, it is the largest German nuclear plant closure – and it shows what’s ahead for the industry when the last nuclear power plant in Germany shuts in 2022.

The closures come in the wake of Germany’s Energiewende, or energy transition, which sees a transition to renewable power sources instead of generating power through traditional means such as nuclear and coal.

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