BERLIN May 12 The German government denied on
Monday it was in talks with utilities about handing over
responsibility for decommissioning the country's nuclear power
plants to a new public taxpayer-backed foundation.
"There are no talks and no agreements on establishing such a
foundation," Steffen Seibert, Chancellor Angela Merkel's
spokesman, said at a news conference after industry sources told
Reuters that the task should be put into public hands.
A spokesman for Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told
the news conference it was the full responsibility of the
utilities to safely decommission and dismantle the country's
nine nuclear power plants still on the grid.
Two sources told Reuters on Sunday that utilities were in
talks with the government about handing over responsibility for
decommissioning the country's nuclear power plants to a public
This so-called 'bad bank' for nuclear energy would take
control of Germany's nuclear plants, which the government
decided should be all closed by 2022 following the Fukushima
disaster in Japan three years ago.
One of the sources said if there was a deal the utilities
might be willing to drop their legal claims against the
government for compensation for having to shut the plants.
The four operators of nuclear plants in Germany - E.ON
, RWE and EnBW and Sweden's
Vattenfall - have set aside total provisions of around
36 billion euros ($50 billion) for the dismantling of the plants
and the disposal of nuclear waste.
The Environment Ministry spokesman said the utilities would
have to cover all the costs of the decommissioning and should
use those reserves to cover that. A spokeswoman for the Economy
Ministry said the government was confident the utilities'
reserves were sufficient to cover those costs.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber; editing by Susan Thomas)