Hundreds of Thousands Protest Against Nuclear Energy
Protesters want nuclear energy gone
By Nicole Goebel Deutsche Welle (Germany)
March 26, 2011
Over 200,000 protesters took to the streets in Cologne,
Berlin, Munich and Hamburg to pressure the government
into abandoning nuclear energy generation. The protests
add to the pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Around 210,000 demonstrators in Cologne, Berlin, Munich
and Hamburg vented their anger at the government's
nuclear policy on Saturday, supported by Germany's
umbrella union body, the DGB, as well as politicians
from the opposition Greens and Social Democrats.
Alarmed by the nuclear crisis in Japan, environmental
and religious groups as well as unions organized the
demonstrations, which kicked off in Cologne's city
center, where nearly 40,000 people turned up to support
Around 90,000 people took to the streets in Berlin
while in Hamburg, organizers counted around 50,000
demonstrators and in Munich the figure was estimated at
Organizers said they were the biggest anti-nuclear
protests Germany has ever seen.
"The government must now respond with plans to switch
off all atomic reactors," they insisted.
Nuclear reactor The government insists on nuclear
energy as a transition technology
Speaking at the demonstration in Berlin, the head of
the DGB union group, Michael Sommer, told the crowd:
"We have to wean ourselves off nuclear energy in an
"And to those in the nuclear industry and those who
support atomic energy, let me say this: We've had
enough of your lies, of your assurances and of your
playing down of the dangers," he added.
Economics minister under pressure
Meanwhile, Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle remained
under fire for comments he made last week about
Berlin's nuclear policy turn-around, with Social
Democrat Sebastian Edathy calling him a liar and
demanding his resignation.
On Thursday, minutes surfaced of a meeting between the
head of the Federation of German Industry (BDI), Werner
Schnappauf, and Brüderle in which the minister
described the government's decision to suspend a plan
to extend the lifetimes of German nuclear reactors for
three months as "not rational."
He also hinted in the document that the move was
politically motivated because of two crucial elections
on Sunday in the states of Baden-Württemberg and
Schnappauf resigned after the document was published,
whereas Brüderle insisted in parliament that he was
Business representatives are divided on the nuclear
issue, with the head of the influential German
Engineering Federation, Thomas Lindner, warning against
a hasty retreat from nuclear energy.
demonstrations in BerlinFukushima has made nuclear-
phobic Germans even more determined
It would be pointless, he said, "if 80 percent of
reactors were switched off and we have little wind and
cloudy skies," he told the weekly newspaper "Euro am
Sonntag," referring to nuclear opponents' calls for
Germany to generate more of its power through wind
turbines and solar cells.
Carmakers Volkswagen and Daimler, however, are more
relaxed about the issue, according to a report in the
weekly business magazine Wirtschaftswoche.
"By the time we've switched to electric cars on a large
scale we will have alternative energy sources in
place," VW was quoted as saying.
Radiation spreads in Japan
In Japan, radiation levels have soared in seawater near
Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, officials
said on Saturday.
Engineers are still struggling to stabilize the power
station two weeks after it was hit by a massive
earthquake and tsunami.
Tests on Friday showed levels of iodine 131 in seawater
30 kilometers (19 miles) from the coastal nuclear
complex had spiked to 1,250 times higher than normal,
but were not considered a threat to marine life or food
safety, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.
Two of the plant's reactors are now seen as safe, but
the other four are volatile, emitting steam and smoke.
The nuclear safety agency said on Saturday that
temperature and pressure in all reactors had
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