RWE to apply to tear down idled Biblis nuclear plant
* RWE opts for pulling down plant rather than enclosure
* Application to be filed in second half 2012
* Approval to take years, process itself many more
By Vera Eckert
May 11 (Reuters) - German utility RWE will apply to the authorities in the coming months to break up two idled nuclear power reactor blocks at the Biblis site, the first step in a lengthy process likely to take many years, the company said on Friday.
"RWE Power (the generation arm) will in the coming months prepare an application...for direct break-up of the Biblis power station, which will be submitted to the Hesse state authorities in the second half of the year," it said on its website.
"Preliminary assessments have shown that a break-up of the unit is preferable to safe enclosure," it said, adding it may take several years to get approval for the plan.
Declaring Biblis A and B blocks are to be torn down in a job that is likely to last a generation will create clarity for the Biblis community.
Some 1,000 jobs and 1,500 partner firms have relied on the nuclear station since the late 1970s and need to know what direction and timing the decommissioning procedure will take.
RWE's move may also set in motion a trend for six other sites subject to Germany's hasty exit from much of its nuclear capacity last summer since when no concrete decisions have been taken on the future course.
Nuclear plant operators were asked last summer to leave off-line permanently eight reactors or 41 percent of the previous total capacity, and to shut the remainder sooner than planned as part of a politically motivated strategy shift in the wake of the Fukushima atomic energy crisis in Japan.
When reactors are broken up, contaminated materials must be neutralised bit by bit and torn into small pieces for detectors to check and clear them of radioactivity. Nuclear fuel elements need to cool down for possibly 50 years before they are stored.
There is not yet a national repository where German utilities can store nuclear waste permanently, which is also slowing down the decision-making process.
RWE and other nuclear operators have turned to the courts to rule on whether the enforced closures are in line with the constitution while also arguing over a fuel element tax the government intends to levy despite the plant stoppages. (Editing by James Jukwey)
- Obama and Castro shake hands, Zuma humiliated at Mandela memorial |
- Google bus blocked in San Francisco gentrification protest
- Reporter allowed to keep sources secret in Colorado theater shooting
- Thai PM urges protesters to take part in election |
- U.S. regulators seek to curb Wall St. trades with Volcker rule