Germany decides to switch off nuclear

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel and Bavarian state premier and leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer give a statement during a CSU meeting in the Andechs convent May 21, 2011.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday backed proposals to shut down all of the country’s 17 nuclear power plants within about a decade.

Speaking at a meeting of the Christian Social Union (CSU), Bavarian sister party to her conservatives, Merkel said a 2022 date proposed by the CSU was appropriate and that her government will eventually fix a date for Germany’s nuclear exit.

“I find that the timeframe which the CSU sees as an option is an appropriate timeframe,” she said at the event in Bavaria.

“People want to know there is a concrete end date and so we will speak of such a concrete end date,” Merkel added. Her cabinet plans to make a decision on June 6.

Merkel has reversed an earlier decision to extend the life span of Germany’s nuclear plants after the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11 hit Japanese reactors, causing an environmental disaster.

She imposed a three-month moratorium on operation of the oldest seven of Germany’s nuclear plants, ordered safety checks on all reactors and asked a commission chaired by a former environment minister to make recommendations for the industry.

Nuclear power has long been unpopular in Germany and Merkel’s decision last year to extend the life of the plants was a major factor in her party losing power after 60 years in a prosperous conservative state in March.

On Saturday, only four of Germany’s plants were online, due to the moratorium and maintenance operations. Germany’s power network agency said that power supplies were secure despite the plants’ being taken off the grid.

Writing by Brian Rohan; Editing by Jon Hemming © Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved