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German reactors shut down as Japanese disaster unfolds

By Colin Ricketts - 16 Mar 2011 14:27:0 GMT
German reactors shut down as Japanese disaster unfolds

The horrific effects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan are spreading around the world as governments watch developments closely and asses their own nuclear policies in the light of the unfolding disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

In Germany seven nuclear reactors have been shut down while the government takes a second look at its nuclear policy.

The shut down affects reactors that date back to before 1980 and safety tests are being carried out at the rest of Germany's nuclear facilities which supply more than 25% of the country's energy needs.

Across Europe, ''stress testing” of nuclear plants has been precipitated by the horrifying events in Japan.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said: ''In light of the situation, we will carry out a safety check of all nuclear plants

''Those nuclear power plants which began operation before 1980 will be provisionally shut down for the duration of the moratorium. They will be out of service.

''Safety is the priority. Those are the criteria by which we acted today.''

Germany decided to give its nuclear power stations a new lease of life last year, extending the operation of the 17 facilities by 12 years, but the Japanese disaster has seen this decision put under the spotlight and, for the moment at least, halted.

The Swiss government has also decided to wait before deciding how to proceed with its nuclear programme.